Leadership Skills For Businesses that Need to Evolve And Adapt

As a management consultant who works with businesses on strategic marketing and evolving in the digital economy, I can attest that the the corporate leaders are the beacon of change for any project. Strong leadership skills for businesses that need to evolve and adapt is critical in leading, inspiring and motivating change.

Disruptive technology, globalisation, geopolitical instability, rising costs and regulations, all create adversity for businesses over time, regardless of the size of the company, location or nature of the industry. However, these challenges have been compounded by the socio-economic and cultural shifts in the digitally savvy consumer mindset.

Strong leadership for businesses is important to adapt to the current digitally evolving world, especially for offline businesses trying to navigate through these transformative times.

Leadership Skills for Business | Evolve & Adapt Singapore

One of the fundamental jobs of a business owner or CEO is to be forward-looking and see how the business needs to evolve and adapt to changing market conditions.

These individuals must be big-picture thinkers that understand the state of the business, industry and overall market. Besides having domain knowledge and expertise, they must have expansive current knowledge and awareness of technology advancements available.

Having a myopic view of a business and industry can blindside a company who does not see change coming.

If you are hyper-focused on your business and interact only with clients and a selective group of vendors and industry partners, there can be a danger of forming a false picture of the entire industry based on the siloed operating view of your business. This can lead to arrogance, complacency or ignorance of external factors that may impact your business.

A good corporate leader must be able to combine big thinking with foresight, analytical skills, creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Big picture thinking also means thinking strategically first and then working out tactical details later or delegating it to your marketing and sales teams.

Work on being a leader that takes a macro approach to your brand and business, and not on being a micromanager. Identify big-picture milestones for your organisation, provide strategies and support for your teams to implement the necessary change to transform.

Evolving & adapting starts at the very top of the organisation. Without strong, positive leadership skills for a business, even with the best intentions for change, a company may not be able to evolve and adapt successfully.

Psychologists have concluded that humans are biologically resistant to change:

“We are hardwired to resist change – it is natural. Part of the brain – the amygdala – interprets change as a threat to the body and releases the hormones for fear, fight or flight. Your body is actually protecting you from change.

That is why so many people in an organisation, when presented with a new initiative or idea – even a good one, with tons of benefits – will resist it.”[1]

In my work, as a certified management consultant, I have seen the importance and necessity for corporate leaders to be committed to change. They must also know how to manage change and motivate staff by leading by example. They must spearhead transformation and have the know-how to effect change. Even if they may not have the expertise to implement the change, they must understand and direct the overall strategy and identify talent to execute the necessary.

The culture of an organisation is determined by the leadership. A strong leader will set about creating the conditions conducive for change for the individuals and the organisation as a whole. A company resistant to change or having a toxic culture is a reflection of weak leadership.

Influential leaders must also be able to lead with positivity to encourage, motivate and inspire employees. Good leaders will communicate well with staff, provide support, coaching and promote teamwork and collaboration. Weak leaders offer little solutions to employees, show little trust or appreciation to staff and foster conflict between departments.

Strong positive leadership skills for businesses encourage change and some degree of risk to innovate and progress. An organisation that has a culture of blame will create a risk-averse environment where employees are reluctant to ask questions, think outside the box or pursue any initiatives.

Strong leadership also means having the ability to act decisively and quickly. Top-level decision-making, especially when it comes to marketing and business strategies, must be made by the business owner or top executives, sometimes based on proposals from operations and management teams.

Strong leaders are reactive to changes and can make quick, calculated decisions that allow the organisation to move forward in an aligned direction.

However, many leaders cannot make decisions due to fear, incompetency or lack of vision. As a result, there is inaction, and proposed initiatives are left in limbo or take a long time to implement. When it comes to evolving and adapting, time and momentum are important factors that spur change and innovation.

A sluggish indecisive management team holds back the organisation, and it may become too slow to change, and too late to be competitive in the new market conditions.

“The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.”

~ Seth Godwin, New York Times Best-selling Author

Good leaders will know how to set key performance indicators (KPIs) and S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based) goals to ensure things are on track, even if they are not involved in the day-to-day, nuts and bolts details of the transformation.

In short, whether a business can evolve and adapt depends entirely on the capabilities of its corporate leaders.

[1] Pennington, Chris, “People Are Hard-Wired to Resist Change“, Emerson Human Consulting.

J C Sum

J C Sum is a certified management consultant (TR 43:2015), an American Marketing Association Professional Certified Marketer (PCM®) in marketing management as well as a certified digital marketing strategist (SSG-WSQ accredited) with 12 years of experience specializing in search engine optimization, content marketing, and analytics. J C holds a Bachelor of Arts from National University of Singapore and is the author of "Evolve, Adapt or Collapse". He has been featured on The Straits Times, Business Times, Channel News Asia, The Edge Singapore, CNA938, and Money FM 89.3.