In Change, Leaders

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” – Confucius

Last week in this space I wrote about the reality that as leaders we can’t sit around feeling sorry for ourselves (no more “learned helplessness”). The obvious follow up to that is that as leaders, we have to actively address the challenges and opportunities that come our way. Sitting down in the mud and crying doesn’t help.

Part of actively addressing those challenges and opportunities is recognizing that they aren’t necessarily the same challenges and opportunities your business was faced with 5 or 10 or 30 years ago. We live in a completely different world. You cannot expect that the things you’ve done in the past are going to be the same things you need to do in the future. That’s true in every aspect of your business.

Think about your people. In order to attract and retain great people, you must do different things than businesses did to attract and retain great people in the past. Benefits, pay, work environment, culture, career development – the list goes on and on. How you think about each of those things has to be different than it’s been in the past. That doesn’t mean that you have to change 100 things at once. But you can’t expect to get and keep the best people by treating them like it’s 1998.

You could analyze every part of your business and you would find the same things to be true. You have to approach the issues facing your business with a fresh set of eyes. You can’t fall into “because we’ve always done it that way” thinking.

So, some of you will say, where am I supposed to get that fresh set of eyes? Maybe it comes from a non-traditional hire from outside your organization. Maybe it comes from a partnership, perhaps with a vendor or even a competitor. Maybe it comes from some group of like-minded people off of whom you can bounce ideas. One thing is for sure: as a leader, you have to be out looking for ideas. You have to read, you have to listen to thought leaders, you have to devote time & resources to your own educational development. You can’t hide in your office doing busywork and then wonder why you don’t have any fresh ideas.

The challenges and opportunities of today aren’t the same as those of yesterday. So don’t try and solve or take advantage of them by doing what worked in the past. Those days are over. Start fresh. Make today a new day.

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