I recently attended the Association for Corporate Growth’s M&A East conference and had the opportunity to hear a couple different keynote speakers whose topics spoke to transformational leadership.
General Stanley McChrystal shared his three ideas for successful execution of battle plans based upon what he learned and executed in Iraq as Commander of Joint Special Operations Command from 2003-2008.
Billy Beane shared his story of how he transformed player identification and selection at the Oakland Athletics, which is transforming an industry’s 100+ year-old way of operating.
Both General McChrystal and Billy Beane’s call to action was that the environment in which they were working had changed dramatically and both realized that in order to succeed in their new reality, they would have to think and operate differently. Said another way they needed to be, transformational leaders.
I believe that all businesses today are operating in a new reality. Technology, societal changes, government regulations, empowered consumers, and competition from unexpected places are accelerating the volume and rate of change in every industry, creating an uncertain or disruptive environment where the old ways of operating are just not good enough for continued success.
Transformational Leaders like General McChrystal and Billy Beane understood that their old ways of operating were not sufficient to deal with today’s challenges. Leaders who can identify and execute new ways of operating, will, in my opinion, be the winners.
The access to a new way of operating are the questions we ask. Transformational Leadership requires new and different questions to give us access to new possible ways of operating. Some questions to consider:
- Is how we operate an attempt to solve problems or pursue opportunities?
- What opportunities exist in the marketplace? What opportunities are my competitors pursuing? What are opportunities that others may be pursuing in my marketplace? What opportunities are we missing or ignoring? What opportunities should we be pursuing? Why?
- What should I be doing to get my teams to think newly, act differently, and identify new opportunities?
- What does my team need to pursue new opportunities? What’s my role in supporting my team in pursuing new opportunities?
- How will my team keep up with the rate and pace of change in our industry?
- What should I be doing differently to support my team?
- What new ideas do we have which could change the way we operate to ensure future success?
- What’s missing, the presence of which would ensure my team is executing our strategy more rapidly and successfully than our competitors?
Are you vexed by these questions? Do these questions open up new possibilities for you to explore? I hope they do. When you discover new ideas for how to address your challenges, the transformational leader pursues new ways of operating in the face of likely lack of agreement. Will you?