The current business environment is turbulent and will likely remain so in the near future. In these circumstances what qualities should a business leader have and what processes are necessary to thrive. Management guru and thought leader Ram Charan shared his ideas while delivering the Great Lakes Global Thought Leader Series lecture in Chennai on Wednesday. He listed five attributes:
1. Be in tune with external change:
Change is constant and in turbulent times it is important to fine tune your antenna to pick these changes early. "There is a need to improve your perceptual equity," he said. One way to do this is spare half a day every quarter and call for a meeting where the participants will try and answer three questions: Which are the five companies in the world that appear to be in tune with the speed of change? What are the three things that these companies do? What events will change the game for your business?
Doing this once a year is not enough, he added. The composition of the team that will do this meeting is important. "Make sure you have people in the room who are not your type of thinkers," he said. The presence of young people and outsiders from a leader's core group will help bring in different perspectives and enable the team to think out of the box.
They will also prevent the top management from reverting to a 'rear view mirror' thinking, which looks at past achievements. He particularly asked business leaders to be aware of the changes that digitisation, analytics and the Internet are bringing about. The advantage of this exercise- looking at changes outside their core businesses-is that it will enable leaders to look at changes in an unbiased manner. "All future trends are visible today. It has to be connected by the leaders," Charan said.
2. Create your own personal social network: Build a network of people-CEOs from different sectors, bureaucrats, ministers and others from different functions- and make it a point to meet them three or four times a year. This will help you to understand change through their lens.
3. Know your customer: Amazon's Jeff Bezos meets his top team every Monday and the question he asks them is: What can we do better for our customers? He does not ask how Amazon can beat the competition. "His logic is that if Amazon is ahead in the customer game, competition will have to naturally follow," said Charan. A constant focus on customers will help handle turbulence better.