In this blog post, Head of Practice for General Management Sophie Mitchell details the positive signs in the busy market for skilled interim CEOs and MDs, and outlines the importance of choosing the right leader for success.
Marked Market Improvement
Although operational efficiency remains central to most business strategies, I have noticed a move towards growth, with organisations seeking support with business development and bid management activity. This shift acts as a barometer for the market and indicates that, although there remains a need to continue to drive efficiency and focus on the bottom line (it is difficult to imagine that this will ever cease to be central to any business strategy), businesses are now beginning to invest in growing the top line.
It has been difficult to predict when businesses would begin to move from a purely introspective focus, but with recent investments in infrastructure, improved performance in the services sector, higher levels of spending on advertising and increased confidence in the manufacturing sector, there are definite signs that recovery is on the way. However, there still remains some uncertainty and ensuring this growth is sustainable is going to be a big challenge – and needs strong leadership in order to be achieved
Style and Substance
With the emphasis on businesses to continually transform, weak leadership is more readily exposed than in more forgiving economic times, and the context of a fragile economy means that in order to succeed, strong leadership at the top of any company is paramount.
It is imperative to have in place a leader who understands that people are the key to any change programme, with technology and processes acting as facilitators, as opposed to the solution providers alone. Managing people’s expectations in this context is vital. Being clear about the reasons for change and what change means for the individual are essential to deliver effective and meaningful transformation.
Making Change Stick
It is all well and good for a business’s leadership team to take the decision to embark on a change in strategy, but if it has not considered how staff will buy into this new direction, the risk of failure could be significant. This in turn could significantly cost a business both financially and in terms of its people and the knowledge they hold.
In order to make change sustainable, engaging with staff at all levels, communicating key messages and providing clarity about where a business is going, are vital. People need to feel that change is being done with, rather than just to, them.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
Depending on the scale of a business and the stage of its development, the style and approach required to act as its leader will need to differ, so understanding what type of leader is right for any given context is all important.
For example, a business impacted by a struggling economy and characterised by low morale usually requires an energetic, empathetic leader who can ‘put their arms around’ people and bring a renewed sense of optimism. Whereas a business characterised by underperformance, poor management and a lack of effective leadership, would benefit from a leader who can shake things up and provide focus.
A significant part of choosing the right leader to fulfil a general management role is as much about personality and cultural fit, as it is about a proven track record of delivery. Therefore the question of ‘who’ and ‘how’, are of equal importance as ‘what’ when choosing a business leader.
Are you in the interim General Management space? What qualities do you think are needed when choosing the right leader in the current economic backdrop? Share your opinions with our interim community below.