Guest Blog by Mike Critelli
During my 25-year tenure as a senior business leader, I have seen a remarkable change in the requirements for successful business leadership. Leaders today must adopt more entrepreneurial behaviors and imbed them in their organizations, however large or mature those organizations might be. The image of an entrepreneur as a young man eating pizza, living and working in a run-down industrial space is far too limiting. In my view, every leader is an entrepreneur, even when he or she runs a large, mature company.
Entrepreneurial leaders will throw out the rulebook on which they and their organizations functioned for decades and create a new set of rules.
What are some of the new rules?
- Leaders can no longer orchestrate the development of a strategic plan and execute against it, as General Eisenhower once said. Battle plans are obsolete after the first day of battle. Leaders today must orchestrate adaptation to a continually changing set of market requirements, some of which are highly disruptive.
- Today’s leaders must learn about their marketplaces in every way possible. They must be relentless in using big-data sets, but they also must discern market signals from a variety of sources, including conversations with customers, front-line employees, and marketplace innovators. A great leader must be an exceptionally active listener. Threats or opportunities now come from far afield.
- Entrepreneurial leaders must accept controlled failures, as Eric Ries argued in The Lean Startup, to extract validated learning. Successful initiatives often result from piecing together successful components of many prior failures.
- Successful leaders will launch numerous, smaller experiments to assess which ones to sustain. Focusing on a few business initiatives is a good idea in stable marketplace environments. In volatile and uncertain market environments, organizations must iterate product offerings often.
- Great leaders are humble and accessible, not imperious or dictatorial. They go out of their way to encourage tough questions and dissenting views.
- Great contemporary leaders recruit people for their adaptability and comfort with operating in uncertain environments, not their “mastery” or “experience.” If someone tells me that he “has 30 years of experience in a field,” I am immediately suspicious, because a certain amount of that experience is obsolete.
- Above all, leaders must drive a manageable sense of urgency in their organizations, given the amount of disruption and insecurity in the marketplace today.
How does today’s entrepreneurial world impact your leadership practices and behaviors?
Michael J. Critelli, now an entrepreneur, is CEO of Dossia, a health and health care organization, and Executive Producer of a full-length feature film, “From the Rough,” which will be released in theaters in early 2014. Critelli is former chairman and CEO of Pitney Bowes, a leading provider of customer communication technologies that was one of the eleven companies identified by Jim Collins as “great” in Good to Great. Visit his blog at mikecritelli.com. This is a guest blog for Triple Crown Leadership.