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OPINION


COMMENT are you a people person?


Dr Tommy Weir, advisor on fast-growth and emerging market leadership, and author of The CEO Shift


is coming to a close. When I reflect over the year it has been exciting, exhausting and definitely unexpected. Coming into 2011 few would have predicted the defining events of the Arab spring, Japanese Tsunami and the escalating debt crisis. The year has raised lots of questions for leaders. At the end of each year, I pause and reflect on a particular dimension


i 26 / DECEMBER 2011


from the previous 12 months. Last year, I pondered insights I gleaned from CEOs. This year I am reflecting on the questions I was asked. Here are a few of them: Repeatedly throughout the year, senior leaders asked, “How can we enhance our culture?” Having rightfully recognised that they did not have the culture that was going to enable their business to achieve its future success, these leaders were ready to embark on creating the future culture. Some organisations claimed they had no culture, but this is not true. Every organisation has a culture even though it may not be clearly stated or what they want. But they still have one. The first step was to settle on the vision for the future. Then we worked with these organisations to state what the shared values, attitudes and practices will be. While this was a fun and exciting project for most organisations, it will fall short of the desired outcome unless socialisation happens, bringing the created culture to life through the employees. This happens best through the highly specialised practice of identifying and bringing to life the desired leader behaviour. Another question was, “What do we need to do to grow greater than the market growth rate?” Numerous times I was asked this. The formula is simple, but putting it into action is very challenging, as it requires a


“Some organiSationS claimed they had no culture, but thiS iS not true. every organiSation haS a culture even though it may not be clearly Stated or what they want. but they Still have one.”


Following a year of global surprises, being a better leader should be the priority in 2012


T’S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT ANOTHER YEAR


metamorphosis in leadership actions. First, you need to understand where your “fail point” is. Most businesses use their existing operating “box” as the measure on how far to push the boundaries. This orientation only allows for incremental growth. If you think of growth as going beyond the outline of the square then you are limiting your opportunity based upon the past. To visualise this, draw a square on a piece of paper representing your current size. Now draw a dotted line around the square that is at least two times the size of the square. Let’s assume this is your fail point. The area in between the square and your fail point is your growth zone. Instead of allowing your growth potential to be defined by yesterday, allow it to go to the fail point. Second, you need to understand the workforce


practice of creating competitiveness through surplus value. This is a very simple concept but ignored daily across the region. Draw an X and Y axis. The X axis is workforce input (hours worked) and the Y axis is sales output (units created, service, products, whatever you sell). Currently there is equilibrium between the two. So the errant thinking is in order to increase the output, then you need to increase the input accordingly. This thinking will keep the equilibrium but to increase your competitiveness you need to move to surplus value, which is the output growing at a greater rate than the input. A repeat question for 2011 was “What does it mean to lead a multi-national workforce?” Leaders need to be aware of and understand the following realities: first-generation corporate societies, market life stage starting points and adjustments, being multi-lingual in one language and managerial honour and shame. These are the hallmarks for successfully leading a multi-national workforce. As I reflect back over the year there is one question


that I was not asked much about – “How do I become a better people leader?” Surprisingly, the basic of “people leadership” is currently a differentiator across the region. Leaders lead people, not processes or strategies (you create those). People leadership is the cornerstone of becoming competitive through surplus value and accelerating ahead of the market growth rate.


IllustRatIon: taRak PaREkh


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