Strategic Leadership + Effective Management
It is my favourite theme and the owner/manager's biggest challenge: balancing strategic leadership with effective operating management. Lack of strategic leadership may be the biggest mistake made by entrepreneurs and can be fatal to their business.
“Today I’m going to start by admitting to you my own biggest mistake as an entrepreneur – failing to continually think strategically. I was too often pre-occupied with operating issues and short-term problem solving. Stuck in the old dilemma of too busy fighting fires to ever work on fire prevention.”
“This was especially true in my first business, computer products distribution. There was so much detail to keep on top of – markets and technologies, customer service issues, managing employees and learning everything I had to know as a new entrepreneur about running a business - from accounting systems and freight rates to lines of credit and payroll deductions.”
“I had all the usual excuses for being drawn into the daily crises and never getting back to the drawing board to review the original strategic plan and see if we were still on track. To be honest, our original plan was not very strategic and never looked past the first two or three years. It was only focused on making our numbers, not on strategic positioning and managing our important business relationships. We made good short-term decisions to maintain profitability and win our share of competitive battles, but did not effectively protect ourselves from conflicts with our major suppliers and were not prepared for the rapid decline in profit margins as competitors flooded the market.”
“Don’t make the mistake I did of getting lost in the operating details and neglecting to raise the periscope and scan the horizon for oncoming threats or opportunities. Be prepared to respond. Strategic vision and leadership need to be constantly applied to daily decision making."
(Read more in "Don't Do It the Hard Way" by your Uncle Ralph.)