The question that we all need to ask is how does your product, business or idea provide competitive advantage? It is no small question and the answer is not a one fits all or one that once answered you can tick the box and put it away. You have to continuously tinker and change to maintain your competitive advantage.

How many times have we seen a corporation at the peak of its powers suddenly and inexplicably implode? What was the driving force behind this; poor management decisions, an unhealthy dose of complacency or the market shifted and the company was unable to navigate the uncertain waters?

From my own experience, I would say that the most important element that was missing was that the company, and its leadership, lack what I think is one of the most important skill set; adaptability. Adaptability is what will fuel an enterprise and provide it with real and sustainable competitive advantage. The fastest to recognize and react thoughtfully will win and big.

What most leaders do not realize is when the business is actually at its apex, it is in its the most vulnerable state. That is when you must stretch the organization and seek out new opportunities to grow or do business. Your business model should be more fluid than ever but this is the time when most leaders take their foot of the pedal and coast. Decisions that would be made to catch up to a competitor or scrap out growth or delayed due to an almost unreal sense of invincibility. It becomes hard for leaders to see a different way of doing things and creating value. Just take a moment and think about the emerging businesses and where they came from. Blockbuster had the market for a long period of time but was unable to adapt it’s model to the changing environment , and the upstart NetFlix came in and disrupted the market.

I propose that leaders work on ways to enhance their adaptability. The challenge for every business is to find ways to evolve their brand and leaders and do it in such a way as to evolve and expand their relevance.

On a personal level, leaders also need to adapt how they tackle problems, develop people, motivate teams and drive intrinsic value for all. It is important to acknowledge that we also must be adaptable in our own thought process. What worked for you last year or last decade is not necessarily going to be the best approach now. We have all seen a manager who as worked for thirty years but truly done one year of learning and repeated the process thirty times.

So, if adaptability is an essential ingredient to success how do we develop on a personal level? Leaders need to adapt to solve old problems with new thinking and newer problems with even more adaptive thinking. Change your perspective and you become open minded and flexible to the possibilities. This helps you develop people, motivate teams to do the impossible and drive intrinsic value for all. Below are 5 Adapt or Die must do’s for you to maximize your potential:

1- Become a great listener- become a real student again and have an insatiable thirst for learning.

2- You have to check your ego and allow all to have a voice – just because you are the leader does not mean you have all the solutions. Empower your team to help create the future.

3- You have to be a keen student of the market and the emerging channels in other industries that could affect you. This leads to innovation and creativity. You not only harmonize the enterprise, you also get things done eliminating gridlock.

4- You have to take off the rose petal glasses and see things for how they are and not how you want them to be – be a realist and hold ourself in check and never be in denial about the current state of the business. It forces you to see and react to the bigger picture and to keep things in to perspective.

5- You have to have the courage to change even when you are on the top of your game. You must seek out continuous growth opportunities for both you and your company.

The challenge for every business is to find ways to evolve their brand and to do it in such a way that it expands relevance and provide meaningful competitive advantage. If you are not evolving you or dying. The time it takes is most often not in your control. Adapt and take control.

As always, thanks for “listening” and feel free to reach out to me directly at deshague.com

Onwards!

dh

* First published on LinkedIn

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