Leadership is a commonly used word, and we all know the dictionary definition, but for SMEs what does leadership really mean today? When launching an SME, leadership is all about the idea and the drive to make it happen, the force of character to create something new from scratch. As a business matures, leadership is then a little different, the business needs careful people management to grow and provide the environment for innovation and success, but today, as the world around us all is still changing rapidly, what is the essential leadership skills a business needs today?
If we think about the business environment we operate in now, we are still in the middle of a digital revolution. Computers first, and then connected smartphones transformed how we do business, but that is not the end of the process by any means. Today we face the rise of the robots, with the potential for driverless cars and 3D printing to transform almost every market sector in a way never seen before. The impact of such digital disruption remains unknown, as does the real timescale of such innovation, but it is clear that this is not going away and it is something facing every SME today.
When faced with such a situation, businesses today need’s something different, leadership that focuses on today’s operation and today’s profits is simply leading the business into disaster. The leadership needed today, to avoid the problems coming, is vision.
Not just vision, but courageous leadership that can grasp that vision for the future and work to make it reality. Leadership that waits until the revolution arrives before it responds will probably tell you it is playing safe, but if a business is not well on the path to change before that new digital revolution arrives, it is too late.
We can all have those leadership qualities if we want, for some it may come naturally, others not, but as we change our approach from business launch to established business, we can all do the same when faced with future threats. The challenges facing every market sector are unique, the solutions will be just as individual, but the leadership approach needed to successfully face those upcoming challenges is the same.
Be bold, don’t wait for the world to overtake your current business model, be prepared for the opportunities and challenges that will be presented to every business in the upcoming years. Have vision. Look for innovative solutions, these are new issues, new opportunities, we need new ways of meeting them, and that means innovation. Be inclusive too, the challenges coming down the line, like the opportunities, could well be the biggest any sector has ever faced, it will be a team effort to be successful through this period of digital disruption, businesses that work together will be the strong ones, long term.
Good leadership is essential perhaps more than any other time right now, with so many rapid changes already here and many more to come, it is leadership that will really make the difference for businesses today.