With power, comes great responsibility. And it’s upon us, to decide how we will use this power, especially when working in large organizations, based in East Europe, where only the boss’s decision matters. A well groomed boss must be a perfect blend of confidence, leadership skills, innovative ideas, potential to take risks, candid with his or her opinions and of course, have positive decision making skills and finally, last but not least unbiased towards sex, religion and race.
Being confident does not only mean, telling sub-ordinates how wrong they are and how right the Boss is. It could also mean, telling the vice-president and or even the president itself that, their projection towards a particular project could be more a hyperbole than realistic with achievements.
For example, Michael my friend from the gym, often talks about her boss who is younger to her by age and as well as less experienced. Her joining the company was a shear co-incidence or calls it her luck. The actual boss she was supposed to work with moved out of the company the day she joined her designation as a sales manager. Hence, she got a boss, who was designated because of his being in the company since years. The very first day she realized that, he wasn’t with a sales back ground. She had sensed that it would be a fine challenge to work with such a boss. The one thing she remarks most of the time is how busy her boss was finding mistakes from her, than actually working towards developing projects, while not to mention the mistakes he would make and then cover up by saying that he has too much in his head to take care of details! Michael realized very soon that, it seemed that he was given a project to work on and that was his vision, to follow orders. This resulted into situations where demands for orders would often come from other markets, while the boss would often say to give it a closed eye, since those were not part of the project he was asked to work on. Further, her boss expected to take permission for every little detail, while half the time he was either not there, or the other half, he would need time to think over it. ‘This resulted into situations where we would process new orders almost after a week’s delay. Whereas in sales, whatever happens, happens at that very moment when you are pitching for your new business, you just cannot waste a moment. Decisions need to be made on the spot. Because the competition will not wait for you or will they?” says Michael and I agree with her on that.
Leaders are not born, they are made; with time, experience and with a strong will power. Having goals, and strategized objectives and vision are the basics of a good leader. While a vision is long term, it must be strategized with small term goals, and clear objectives, on how one should achieve those goals. Achieving these short term goals, will surely lead towards the achieving of the vision. In todays’ competitive market trends, it’s just not feasible to stick towards your own opinions and projections. One needs to understand the trends of the markets and continue to re-strategize one’s goals and objectives. Else one maybe sailing way away from the market trends!
Once again I am reminded about an example Michael shared about her boss, when she got a huge order, but from a market which was not part of the projects’ assigned to her boss. She was surprised when her boss said ‘that is not part of our market, so we are not interested to sell to them now, maybe, we will get in touch with them next year’. She asked her boss, “Do you think the customer will wait for us till next year? Don’t you think that once they know about the potential of our product category, they will try to work with our competition and by next year, we might find the markets more competitive, while today if we launch our products, we will have an opportunity to be leaders in our category for this market?” She was further surprised to hear her boss repeat his same answer. She went ahead to ask her boss, ‘don’t you think markets are becoming more competitive and internet is playing a key role to educate the consumers about products’? She says that she was shocked to hear his reply, ‘in our product category there is a different kind of competition’ but what kind, he never mentioned!
Innovation is not only limited to product development, but it also means designing innovative offer-mix. For example you can revise your offer-mix by designing an offer exclusively upon understanding the needs of each individual customer and or market than, by the uniform offer mix designed for all your customers, globally. Because each market has its own trends and each segment of customers will have their own needs. You cannot have a global offer, while knowing that, East European trends are way behind or different as compared to West Europe, let alone if you want to target your products for Asian or the American markets.
Once again I’d like to share an example from my friend Michael. As part of her boss’s project, they were trying to enter a market in West Europe since a long time. She visited a prospect, who was not a businessman, but a national coach who was looking for a brand or a company to support his sports team and, he was also the national coach as well as the director of the board of the deciding committee who would assign which products would be ideal for sportsmen of their country. Michael evaluate from her talks with the prospect that, he was keener to work with a company who would regularly sponsor events and sponsor individual sportsmen. She knew this was not part of her offer, so she quickly re-designed her offer and instead of offering any discounts to the prospect, she gave all those discounts in the form of an annual budget towards sponsoring events. Now that made her offer innovative for the prospect, with who she was in meeting and since she came up with this offer the moment he expressed his needs, he had but one option and that was to go ahead with the deal. She thought she would be rewarded when she returned back to her office to discuss this with her boss but instead, she was surprised again! Firstly she says that her boss’s reply was ‘you should have taken my permission before making that offer’ and then she says, he said ‘we cannot make that offer to him, because it’s not part of our policy. We can only give him discounts, but we cannot use that discount in the form of investing or sponsoring events’. This was surprising for Michael, because the offer was nothing being part of the policy or not, it was similar to the situation where a glass is half empty or half full. ‘Four days later, my boss came to me to say that, last night he was enlightened and he saw that the offer was fine to go ahead with’ says Michael. ‘But we were 4 days late! And the worst was that, the person who was supposed to add the new customer into the system was on holidays so by the time we actually processed the order, we were like 2 weeks late! Just imagine what picture we gave to our new client, to process a new order and that too from a market which the company was trying to enter since years!’ she said.
It is not necessary that because you are a boss so all the new ideas must come from you. And if others pass on an innovative idea, it should be ignored or overlooked, simply because it wasn’t from the boss. Appreciating innovative ideas and having a keen eye to implement it with a positive though would only add on towards achievements, which, is the ideal vision for any company. A boss of a department is responsible to lead his team, so that, together they can achieve, because, its winners who take it all.
Contributed by: Mohinder Pal Singh
Date: August 21, 2011