What is the primary requirement to ensure growth and success for your company? In general, the answer is good leadership.

Management and leadership are different yet complementary, and both are vital to success. While leaders innovate, managers execute – it does no good to innovate without execution.

As defined by consultants at McKinsey & Co., company-level leadership consists of seven competencies in three categories: thought leadership, people leadership and business leadership.

Thought leadership includes market insight and strategic orientation. Go beyond current channels and customers to define initiatives for growth.

People leadership involves three components: advocating and implementing change (change leadership); creating and involving teams (team leadership); and motivating employees and suppliers to work together (collaboration).

With business leadership, you’re looking at customer impact – creating new values for the customer; and results orientation – driving for and achieving high performance levels.

10 ways to success

Companies fail when they don’t concentrate on meeting their customers’ needs. So, what can you do to avoid this fate?

1. Beware new competitors on the edge of your radar. The foremost sign of an antiquated business model is the appearance of a new, better model that creates and delivers value differently. Think Amazon.com.

2. Watch your leading-edge customers. Those who are fast adopters of new processes and materials will be prone to embrace the latest new opportunities in your market.

3. Monitor your cost structure. Metrics like sales and profits per employee can warn of increased cost.

4. Create a continuing sense of urgency. The need for speed should be proactive so that change can occur in advance. Get ahead.

5. Question the “way things are done around here.” When change is needed, don’t get stuck looking in the rear-view mirror fighting yesterday’s battles.

6. Seek the realities: To lead a company to success, its leadership must listen to its workforce, suppliers, and customers to find the truths that threaten its survival.

7. Always seek to understand the product and service attributes your target customers deem important. What’s good for your customer is good for your company.

8. Investigate your non-customers. Find out why they don’t buy from you, what it would take to sell to them, and whether you can do so profitably.

9. Anticipate new market paradigms. Demographic change is a key mover of markets. Also, don’t forget your company must be a member of the digital economy.

10. Hire competent people with broad business experience. Employing a staff with experience only in your industry can leave you blind to opportunities and solutions.

Smart companies are constantly looking over their shoulder so that they can be at the right place at the right time with the right products. Don’t wait for an emergency before responding to keep your company relevant to the market.


Over 50 years Art Raymond worked with manufacturers of furniture, cabinetry, and other wood products around the world to solve management and technical problems and to grow their businesses.  As the capstone to his career he served Hooker Furniture Corporation as Senior Vice President, Operations retiring in 2013.  Contact him at [email protected].

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