If you look at really successful leaders, there are only 2 things that they tend to focus on getting right.
The first thing is the strategy.
And it really doesn’t matter HOW you get the strategy right, the important thing is to get it right. For instance, Steve Jobs’ leadership style is not one that is often held up as an example of best practice. But through good judgement, maybe some luck, definitely a lot of hard work and passion, he got the strategy right to the extent that he transformed a bankrupt company into the most valuable company in the world in a little over 10 years. Leaders like Terry Leahy, who did great things at Tesco, use far more participative and market data driven approaches to get the strategy right.
Yes, it usually pays to involve people and data is generally a good idea to have, but, at the end of day, you’ve just got to get it right and you are away.
The second thing is the resources.
There is no point in having a brilliant strategy if you don’t have the right resources in place to deliver it. Again, buy people in, borrow money from the bank (if they’ll lend it to you!), re-use existing resources…it does not really matter how you get them in place, as long as you get them in place. Again, you see some companies gain success by buying up others (although this is more often than not a mistake – take Federal-Mogul’s purchase of Turner & Newell that bankrupted them) and you see other companies grow organically hiring a few key people on the way (more like the Virgin approach).
And yes, it is probably cheaper and safer to grow organically developing the people you have slowly, but cheaper and safer could end up meaning a less valuable, less exciting business.
So it does not matter HOW you get there, as long as you get the RIGHT STRATEGY and have the RIGHT RESOURCES to make it happen. So leaders need to free up time to focus on these two critical areas.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with hundreds of business leaders who do just that as part of the Leadership Team programme. All these successful leader have got these 2 key elements right, but they all get there in surprisingly different ways.