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How To Turn Leadership’s 3 Biggest Challenges Into Your Competitive Advantage

Sep 11, 2022 10:47AM ● By Meridith Elliot Powell

Managing an increasing list of obstacles in a rapidly growing marketplace presents a variety of challenges. I have recently worked with several owners, CEOs, and C-Suite professionals of major companies who are struggling with balance.

Running a business today is not for the faint of heart. The amount of inference and obstructions seem to be growing. For example, I have one client with a sales team that is shattering records while they have no product to deliver. I have another that wants to expand her company into three new locations, but a difficult search for the right real estate coupled with rising construction costs has her rethinking how to expand. Another client has more than one-third of his team heading to retirement and a lack of true leaders ready to take their places.

In order to manage employees today, you must understand the world has shifted. Leading is far more complex, far more challenging, and requires more of you than in the past. Here are the three biggest challenges facing leadership today, and the three innovative solutions to turn them to your competitive advantage.

Challenge #1 – The Marketplace

Businesses today have to deal with the challenge of a constantly shifting marketplace. Right now leaders are looking at concerns such as rising gas prices, looming inflation, talent shortages, and supply chain issues to name a few.

Solution – Embrace The Suck

To succeed in today’s marketplace, you need to borrow an unofficial phrase from the military – Embrace The Suck. This basically means that it’s not the optimistic nor the pessimistic leaders that thrive in tough times, but those who deal with their reality as it is. To embrace the suck means that you don’t wait for the problem to go away or get better. You don’t pretend the problem doesn’t exist. You don’t allow the problem to become your reason for failure. You embrace the reality of the problem and find a way around it.

Challenge #2 – Talent

Another current large issue for many businesses is finding and retaining talent. According to Gallup, more than 41 million people voluntarily left their jobs in 2021, and of those, only one in five are looking for another opportunity. Even when you can find people to run your business, finding talented, engaged and well-skilled team members is nearly impossible.

Solution – A Proactive Pipeline

If you want to find the best talent, start using the same skills and techniques that you use to find the best customers. You build a pipeline, proactively nurture them, and put in the time to build the relationship. Attracting talent today works the same way. Long before you need to fill a position, it’s important to identify the prospects that you want to work for your company. Your human resources team (even if that is just you) needs to be actively engaging with and investing in them before you ask them to invest in you.

Challenge #3 – Managing Change

Helping employees embrace, feel good about, and accept change is probably one of the biggest talents a leader today needs in their company. The marketplace is moving rapidly, and you need a team that is adaptable, flexible, and willing to change with it. The problem here is that many employees resist change. Change can create fear and stress, and many employees do what they can to avoid it. This can make your role so much more challenging.

Solution – Clear Communication

As a leader, you need to increase your communication, strategy, and engagement around change. You need to be clear and highly focused on the goals, then ask your team for their ideas and input. The most important question you have to be able to answer for them is “Why?”. Why do employees need to make the change? Why does it matter? Why do your team members need to get behind the change and get involved? What’s in it for them? Sometimes people avoid change because it feels like it’s something done to them. Ask them for their ideas and input, and watch your team not only stop resisting change, but actually start to drive it.

Being a leader today is challenging. It calls for a new set of skills, a different focus, and an ability to not only adapt and change, but consistently master the art of proactive problem solving. While the tasks may be more challenging, the rewards are also far greater. If you can put these strategies into place, it’s possible to turn all of this uncertainty into your greatest competitive advantage.

Meridith Elliott Powell
Business Growth Expert & Keynote Speaker