Guest Blogger: Richard J. Walsh, Director, UNCW Swain Center for Executive & Economic Development (this post originally appeared on WilmingtonBiz.com on July 15, 2019)
Over the past ten years, I have had a number of unique opportunities to travel and work with many highly successful organizations and global leaders. More recently, I interviewed more than one-hundred of these leaders, asking how they anticipate trends, grow their businesses and deliver results. People often ask me, what advice can you share? In this particular article, I would like to highlight just a few nuggets of advice shared with me throughout these interviews.
Leaders are watching the following trends: big data, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, nano-technology, cryptocurrencies, internet of things, shifts in urban development and breakthroughs in STEM research. Data analytics skills are seen as critical for the future. As changes emerge, it is important to align vision and strategy with people, processes, systems and technology. The goal is to build a culture to strengthen commitment and enable others to respond to changes, develop resiliency to be at your best, and to help others lead in the midst of business pressures and change.
Grow “Bigger Minds”
Leaders must now think and communicate more broadly about their organization and encourage others to collaborate as well as work more interdependently, connecting the different functions in a more cohesive and organic way. Furthermore, leaders need to learn operations, simplify processes, strengthen how key projects are managed and prepare future leaders to anticipate trends and disruptions. One financial services executive I had the pleasure of talking with encouraged others to develop people, support diversity and inclusion and embrace the next generation of workers.
Strong leaders deliver business results. A technology leader once advised that it is crucial to know your business well. Although simple, it is often the most challenging part of leading. Be certain to determine how your organization creates unique value, strengthen business and financial acumen in others, anticipate trends, understand value innovation and deliver on commitments.
Many leaders attribute their success to the value of guidance from trusted advisors. It is imperative to seek out others to give honest and direct feedback, support and sound advice, as well as to solicit feedback from multiple levels, different perspectives and a wide range of key stakeholders. It is key to leverage support from an executive coach and gain further insight and perspective from other successful executives.
Leaders must adjust quickly as market and economic conditions change, and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. It is important to manage risk and develop a management system that will provide clear and accurate data. Business leaders should create a dashboard, playbook or scorecard that measures what is most important to themselves, stakeholders and the organization and should monitor not only past results, but also determine indicators that can help more accurately project (and forecast) future results.
This article is meant to share just a bit of the insights and advice I have learned from over one-hundred highly influential leaders. As part of UNCW’s Swain Center for Executive & Economic Development at the Cameron School of Business, we now have the opportunity to work closely with the successful leaders in our own region. We have already started to integrate their advice along with the suggestions of very talented faculty and staff as well as students who we hope will ultimately work for some of these impressive organizations. Watch for additional upcoming features from the Swain Center to help prepare you and others to lead now and in the future.
If you would like to learn more about the Swain Center, their community collaborations or course offerings, please feel free to contact Richard Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-470-2983.