Mid-market companies face a unique leadership development challenge. They need robust, sophisticated development programs just like larger enterprises, but they have less volume of leaders to justify the costs of custom development.
Most of us learn to lead through apprenticeship, watching role models -- good and bad. Some of us study the greats (WWJWD? What would Jack Welch do? WWSJD? What would Steve Jobs do?), but no one finds a simple leadership recipe. We also learn, sometimes painfully, through trial and error on the job. Each of these approaches has a downside. Our bosses don't always become bosses because of their best practice leadership skills; so their style may not be the best model to replicate.
Managing through business cycles – and there are many types of them – challenges even the most seasoned leaders. Responding to or anticipating market changes can require bold and risky decision-making with potentially profound consequences. A leader’s first exposure to market volatility can be challenging, unsettling and wrought with mistakes. But what if you could practice reacting to and managing through market swings before you are subjected to them in real life?
In my previous blog post, I made the point that the most valuable learning experiences happen when you overlay the business system with the people dynamics that occur on a daily basis. Insight Experience’s programs are designed to capture, teach, and apply both of these dynamics. The natural question is, “What does this look like?”
Making business decisions purely based on the numbers and economics is not that difficult. It’s when you add the human factor that business decisions become exponentially more challenging and nuanced. When I explain what Insight Experience does, I almost always end up making this point. I recently attended a conference with senior Learning, Talent and HR executives where I engaged in this discussion at least two dozen times. Leaders need to learn how to work through people and make confident decisions that balance the economics and the human factor—and it’s the human factor that’s the most challenging.
A growing chorus of business leaders is questioning the singular notion of maximizing shareholder value. In a recent Forbes article, Jack Welch and Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce, both label it the “World’s Dumbest Idea”. Neither of these CEOs think shareholder value is unimportant, but without using the label they advocate a more Balanced Leadership approach. Marc Benoiff in an essay in the Huffington Post calls for maximizing stakeholder value while Jack Welch says, “Shareholder value is an outcome—not a strategy.”
How do successful leaders do it? It’s the question we all ask. We all want to tap into their lessons and shamelessly steal their best practices. We study how great leaders in history have thought and talked. We read case studies and pore over profile articles in magazines and blogs like this. We look for clues.