Previously appeared in June, 2017
I recently attended a CEO summit in Italy, sponsored by the Consumer Technology Association. It was, of course, a networking event for business leaders and owners. There were thought leaders, owners of startups, small firms, integrators, and large and small (both public and private) companies. We obviously discussed industry issues and enjoyed each other’s company. But it was also possible to speak one-on-one with many people.
My key takeaways revolve around the fact that it seemed very consistent regardless of the size or type of firms, that those companies doing well had leaders who harbored few illusions. They listened intently to ideas and information and were not afraid to ask for help. Meanwhile, those with struggles often did not want to talk about them, did not have enough facts to judge, and were often trying to solve their issues alone.
First off, as we have written before, those advancing firms had leaders who were quite clear on their limits. They knew what they were good at, and more importantly, where they lacked specific skillsets. I think this allows them to compensate for their limits while working on improvement in areas they deem important to master. They understand their markets pretty well, even if they are looking for more insight. Perhaps that is why they spoke with so many others. They wanted to be clear on who their customer was, how big any opportunity is, how to reach it, and any of the other things needed to operate efficiently and effectively.
These folks understand the competitive landscape. The requirements of customers and the effect of the economy are not used as excuses. Instead, they are focused on what to do, and they avidly seek out more information and views to base their actions and choices on. They clearly know that doing nothing is not a plan, and that simply working harder often does not produce more. So they keep their ears open to all input, especially input that they might not be happy to hear (clear-eyed).
The process of listening is the first step in getting help. Many listen everywhere. To employees, partners, customers and the market. Once again, the news might not often be good. But what was agreed upon by many that I talked to is that action is constantly needed, especially in such a volatile space as technology and electronics.
It does not matter where you get help from. It can come from anywhere. Just be clear-eyed about the source. If your team does not have the experience, knowledge and expertise, then you may need to change those dynamics. Or look outside for help.
So stop, look, listen and act. You will be moving ahead, as so many others only look inside their own four walls for the answers.