For some time now we have realized that, in order to position our products or services and that our clients choose us despite the growing and better offer by our competitors, something else must be done. Obviously, the first thing is to have a competitive product, with adequate technical features, at a price consistent with the solutions it provides, but then, what else can we do? Having clear this core of what the product should be, and that must be perfectly taken care of, we have two factors that will define the success (or the failure) of our proposal.
“At the end, either you’re different … or you’re cheap”. This quote of the expert in computer science, marketing and writer Guy Kawasaki contains one of the most important keys to achieve success, not only in business, but also in our personal lives. In the business world, either you are different (and you are recognized as different) or you have no choice but to compete for price, which always means “low price”. However, it is very common that we do not apply this differentiation in the appropriate direction, and this can have a significantly different result than expected.
keys to success
From our childhood we are subjected (and submit) to a constant comparison with those we consider better. We are encouraged to behave better because this or that person stands out for their good behavior, to study more because we have to overcome the schoolmates who obtain the best qualifications, and when we reach our professional life, the reference are the competitors in the market that obtain the highest sales ratios, the best stock market valuation or the best references in specialized publications. However, with this methodology of differentiation we lose focus on the essential; ourselves.
It is important to clarify that everything said above is not wrong, since improving is always good, and trying to be better and approaching the best is always commendable. What I want to emphasize is that the true reference on which we must focus in order to differentiate ourselves must be ourselves and look inwards before looking outside. We must reflect deeply to know ourselves and discover our true strengths, those things that we are able to do extraordinarily well, surely better than the average, and that this is the true engine of change and improvement.
Starting from our interior and improving individually, we will be better people, and only then can we be more competent and obtain better results in our relationship with others, both personally and professionally. If we always keep the focus outside of us, the result may not be adequate, since we cannot be who we are not, and we will probably try to develop on weak points, which will not allow us to reach the proposed goals and may lead us to feel frustration, obtaining a result absolutely contrary to what we aimed to.
This Japanese expression implanted in Toyota, recognized as the best managed company in the world, hides the necessary procedure to have the necessary information and be able to make decisions effectively; however, and given the apparent simplicity of its meaning, is something that it is very difficult to apply, even more the bigger the size of the organization on which it is necessary to decide.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and be more, you are a leader”
The leader must earn the denomination through the results obtained, but not only by the objective data of the financial statements of the company, but by the results obtained through the influence exercised on the rest of the team, the rest of the staff, and in the company’s set of stakeholders.
“Every leader is a boss, but not every boss is a leader”
Every leader is a boss, but not every boss is a leader, and this must be kept in mind. If we want to limit ourselves to making decisions, to mathematically objective valuations and to results that qualify us as an efficient executive in the achievement of business objectives, we will be giving the boss profile. This can be perversely attractive, since we will have a good feedback in the short term and we will be well valued by those who pay us the salary, for which, it seems difficult to think that we should leave all this aside to do things differently.
Leadership in times of change
However, we are in times of change, and this change must also be made in our management style.
It may seem that everything said above must be abandoned because the present has changed, and things should be done differently. It is true that we must do things differently, but let us be clear that, if there are no objective results, if the company does not earn money and is not able to produce more efficiently and effectively and in a sustainable manner, everything else will be useless.
Having clear then that the results are essential, how we arrive at those results is what differentiates the real leader from the usual boss.
Be a source of inspiration for collaborators, transmit your passion, your vision and join with you adding instead of obeying, be consistent so that your actions do not contradict your indications, that your team wants to go where you go and not where you tell them to go, … in summary, and as Simon Sinek states in the sentence that opens this text, if you inspire them to dream, to learn, to do and to be more, YOU are a leader.
Become a leader to admire
Become someone to admire, to follow, to imitate; We all have references that have transmitted all this to us, thus we all have examples of what we want to transform ourselves, whereby there are no excuses. YOU decide if you want to be a boss and command or be a leader and transform.
Arturo Gálvez – Business Counselor
Current relationships, especially in professional relationships, what we say, transmit and the results we obtain are preceded by our behavior, which has two components; normative and spontaneous.
The normative behavior is that which is clear, that we all know that we “must” do and that basically confers the minimums that we are expected of.
Dress in an appropriate dresscode to a specific situation, act with the appropriate standards of courtesy and education, go conveniently uniformed according to the regulations or corporate image of our work or our company, give the appropriate technical or specific answers to the request of another person, etc. they combine everything that has to be done and that our interlocutor interprets as expected, and failure to do so as established, as it is normative, will bring with it negative consequences previously established for the “offender”.
But there is something else that moves us from what is expected to what is desirable, that transforms a correct behavior into an excellent one and that takes our valuation of people to another level, and that is what these people do simultaneously and naturally to normative behavior. It depends to a large extent on the correct motivation and that they feel happy and fulfilled with what they do.
When the motivation is not correct, and people do not feel happy, the result will be opposite, taking us from the expected to the undesirable, with disastrous consequences in the sustainability of the objectives we want to achieve. This is spontaneous behavior.
Having perfectly motivated campaign workers and aligned with our objectives implies a deep knowledge of them, because only through knowing them perfectly and knowing what their values, expectations and circumstances are we can work in the right direction to be leaders for them instead of bosses, to make them feel part of a team instead of subordinates who fulfill orders, and who naturally accompany their normative responses of spontaneous nuances that carry their work, and therefore our results, to excellence.
Details as simple as they smile while speaking, discuss in a correct register and objectivity or feel enough confidence and control in what they do to make certain decisions that solve certain situations effectively will have a very important positive impact on our results.
The Importance of Spontaneous Behavior
Times have changed, and the economic recognition of the work done, even though it is essential, is no longer enough because our collaborators also expect spontaneous behavior from us to create a favorable and motivating work environment. We work with people and the right personal relationships require a deep knowledge and a permanent performance in the right direction in a vertical descending and transversal way.
Incorporating this type of management of people as part of the values of our company and our corporate social responsibility will cause a positive differentiation with respect to our competitors. I cannot find a single reason why should not do it.
“There’s only something worse than training your employees and leaving. Do not train them to stay, ” Henry Ford.
Following this quote of the American industrialist Henry Ford is one of the biggest dilemmas that certain employers are facing today, and I say certain, because fortunately more and more are (I include myself among them) those who are convinced that better to achieve the objectives is to be surrounded by the best, the most and best trained, to the extreme of, as Steve Jobs said:
“It does not make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what they have to do. We hire smart people to tell us what we have to do. “
The importance of company training
Only through the best, those who are most up-to-date and capable of adapting to the changes of the current professional environment, can we, working as a team and doing an adequate leadership, take our companies to an unstoppable position and growth, and if we fear that our collaborators leave, maybe we should look inside ourselves to find the reason.
A happy, motivated and recognized person does not feel tempted to change; generally good collaborators are going to change bosses, not to change jobs.
Training as a key factor
Bearing in mind that the formation of people is a key factor of success for companies, the reality is that it is common for lack of resources, or worse, for lack of strategic vision, in many organizations the training is not part of the fundamental budgets of the management, which is not only fatal for said company, but it is an important prejudice for the people who compose it.
This leads us to assess the possibilities of self-training. In the same way that managers must have the training of their teams as something inexcusable, people have to worry about being perfectly trained and updated to be able to choose among the best options that come our way.
Not too long ago the attendance to courses, lectures, etc., depended on a source of external funding that gave us the opportunity to take advantage of these opportunities, but today and thanks to the internet we have at our disposal how many materials, conferences, texts, etc., created by the best in any specialty that we are capable of imagining, with which we have no excuses for not being trained.
Training is essential in the personal and professional career
In the same way that companies have to be convinced about training is essential, people must take care to always be at the forefront of their skills and abilities, and there are no excuses for not doing so.
Of course, we must bear in mind that being formed is vital for our personal and professional careers, and that it is not only the responsibility of our employers, but of each and every one of us.
The business world is changing towards higher competitiveness. The executive in the current company must be updated and professionalized in order to optimize its efficiency and effectiveness in decision-making.
Wwithin a global environment in which everything happens at a great speed, and in which the margin of error has been dramatically reduced.
We are at a time when what is done has lost its supremacy in favor of how it is done, parameters have been incorporated into management such as Corporate Social Responsibility, circular economy, environmental impact or sustainability, and where the human team and its management has become an essential factor in achieving success.
Teamwork is a priority in the face of individual achievement, and creativity in the search for solutions against the theoretical models that until now have been accepted among those dedicated to making decisions, and companies need leaders instead of executives.
Deal with global changes
All these changes are global; the world has become small thanks to the advances in information and communication technologies, as well as the evolution in logistics, and Andalusia and its business network must concern on it.
In this new business environment, the training of the manager is essential, and while not too long ago the important thing was to have a wide specialization and experience in a specific area of management, nowadays it is essential to be able to make decisions from a holistic vision of the company, valuing the global operations and taking into account how this decision influences all the interest groups that may be affected (the so-called stockholders).
Competitiveness and educational institutions
The educational institutions for executives and managers also need to be updated in order to give that training service that is demanded today and provide an extra to what until now they had been offering.
This “something else” is what partnerships like the one between Loyola Andalucía University and ESADE Business & Law School offer us through its Executive Education programs, in which CEOs and executives interact in a collaborative and multisectoral environment, where not only the development of individual skills is critical, but also the sharing and learning through team experiences and situations in which decisions must be made considering the company as a whole and not as a sum of parts, and valuing the global consequences of decisions.
The dynamics of learning
Therefore, living a training experience that serves as an impulse and helps you think “big” makes prospering an achievable possibility. The learning dynamic is carried out through master sessions with a cast of teachers extremely skilled in their areas that, in addition to great communicators and researchers, are business experts who apply what they explain by contributing all that know-how that traditional education does not reach, methodologies such as the ALP (Action Learning Projects), the LEAD program of Management Skills, the Management Simulator and a multitude of extracurricular activities that take the learning to one more step, facilitating the participant a space to stop and think, to enrich themselves with their peers.
They provide a journey and a diverse experience that forces you to collaborate and build, because they all have the same purpose: to create value in the environment in which they struggle every day and that this value is maintained over time and evolves.
The change we are experiencing has only just begun, and we have to be up-to-date, aware of the environment and be able to anticipate the future, which will only be possible through excellence in learning processes led by institutions of international reference that were born to train the professional profiles that are called to lead our economy.
Executive training programs to improve competitiveness
The Loyola University of Andalusia and Esade Business & Law School propose an extensive program in executive training for professional leaders (Corporate MBA) that will guarantee success and competitiveness in the face of the current and future challenges that will arise. We will only reach success through a transformative and aligned training with real needs that we will face.
For some time now, a parameter has been added to our management that has not been given too much attention, which has been called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), as a vital element in the definition of the mission, vision, values and objectives of the companies, and as an essential issue related with the management of the company.
Due to the vertiginous advance that the economy and the industrialization have experienced since the Second Industrial Revolution, and, especially during the Cold War period and later (since the end of the 20th century to the present) all the effort has been put into productivity , the efficiency of the processes and in a competitiveness to achieve the result without paying attention to the collateral effects that it had.
The different legislations, logically always went a step behind since it is impossible to propose a correction to an event that has not occurred, and, moreover, there was not enough experience to be able to anticipate it, with which, the present was regulated, with all consequences of the past already done, and with the uncertainty of unpredictable future damages.
What is Corporate Social Responsibility?
According to the Observatory of Corporate Social Responsibility, it is defined as “a way of managing companies based on the management of the impacts that their activity generates on their customers, employees, shareholders, local communities, the environment and society in general.”
This definition, although it is brief and concise, explains crystal clear that CSR is something that goes beyond environmental or eco-friendly concepts, to be a fundamental part in the DNA of companies, something that has to soak up the identity and the personality of the organizations, that all the staff must know, assume and apply, and that the entity must communicate so that it is a valuable element for which our customers, suppliers, and everyone who wants to can evaluate and qualify us.
Corporate Social Responsibility is everyone’s business
This issue of Corporate Social Responsibility is not exclusive of large corporations or those listed on the stock market; it is something that must be incorporated whatever the size of our company or business, because, otherwise, we will lose adaptability and competitive position and our results will reflect that disadvantage.
The day to day has taken us to assume communications, internet, new technologies, etc. as something that defines whether we are inside or outside the market and the current environment, and Corporate Social Responsibility will not be less.
Today I still find myself with managers and CEOs who give less importance to this issue, without being aware of the consequences that this will bring, and there is something worse, and that is, since it is a “silent” issue since it does not uncover any negative parameter or ratio in the financial statements, when the symptoms appear, it may be too late to implement the necessary solutions.
Transparency and communication in corporate social responsibility
Fortunately, more and more companies publish their CSR report or some similar denomination in which they show and demonstrate the actions they carry out, the results obtained and the commitments they assume in the short, medium and long term, thereby facilitating a tangible tool by which to value them and know what we can expect from them.
It is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to society actions of improvement and commitment, and be willing to be audited for it, which will result in greater sustainability of our organizations and an improved legacy for future generations.
The externalization, or outsourcing of workers or departments in our organizations is a means and an important tool to increase flexibility and adaptation of our organizational structure to certain changes in order to experiment the effectiveness that a decision may have, really and objectively testing the result obtained.
However, abusing this system can make us fall, not only in causing a negative effect among our employees and collaborators, but in running the risk of losing the personality of our company. And what is truly dangerous is that if the contracting of external services works as it should, the temptation to abuse this type of services beyond what is advisable can be important.
In today’s business world we are moving in an environment governed by obtaining the best possible result in the shortest period of time, and the managers in charge of making decisions are capable of making real juggling in order to satisfy the mandate that has been given to us, among other things, because part of our emoluments are usually linked to the achievement of these objectives. However, this may lead us to not pay adequate attention to issues of vital importance, such as the work environment, how our stakeholders perceive us, the corporate social responsibility (which in itself deserves a separate article), etc., which, although in the short term it can be satisfactory, it will inevitably affect the sustainability of the company over time.
Corporate Sustainability and Externalization
Corporate Sustainability can be defined in a few words as the search for a balance that allows obtaining the desired results in the present, and that this obtainment can be maintained in the medium and long-term future. For this reason, it is important to use the tools that we have at our disposal for what they are designed, and not to make creative innovation decisions in their use, since the result, in the end, will be different than desired. In the same way that each nut requires a suitable tool to optimize the benefits for which it has been designed, with the outsourcing of our business structure, the same happens.
Do we think that we can implement a new process, management activity, etc., and we need to test the real result that it can bring? Lest go ahead! It is time to hire external management personnel and objectively assess what we are going to achieve with it, but once we have the necessary feedback and consider that we are going to incorporate this process into our activity permanently, we must design the optimal structure with the same character of permanence, and perhaps leave a certain percentage of externalization in order to have that point of necessary flexibility, but no more.
Efficiency and effectiveness in decision making
The efficiency and effectiveness must be obtained within the honesty in the decision making. If the search for the optimal short-term result leads us to the exercise of certain management engineering that leads to the use of figures such as the false self-employed, we can be sure that this result will not be maintained in the long-term. While it is true that the legislative and tax policy is often not helpful in the search for the best ratio of profitability, it is our responsibility as managers to put our grain of sand to try to change the current atmosphere and to heal our professional environment for the future that we want to build. We must not forget that our results depend on the people who collaborate in their achievement, for which they must be appreciated, recognized and cared for, and, what is more important, that they feel it.