Leadership Exercise: Assess Your Ability to Conquer Change

As a leader, you must motivate and encourage your team, particularly in uncertain times. This is not easy, but it’s vital in creating a strategic business with a competitive edge. 

“I’ve spent the last 25 years thinking and writing and speaking about leadership,” says Bill Taylor, “Fast Company” magazine cofounder and business author. “And I can say with absolute certainty, that the work of making deep-seeded meaningful change has become the defining work of our time.”

How do you do that? Start by answering these questions, Taylor suggests.

Does your team’s definition of success allow you to stand for something special and inspire others to stand with you?

“Competition is no longer about being the best at what lots of others already do,” Taylor says. “It’s about being the only one that does what you do. What do you promise? What do you deliver that nobody else can deliver? In a world of hyper competition and nonstop disruption, ordinary is just not an option.”

Just because you grow commodity crops, doesn’t mean your farm’s products and services can’t be unique. Think through: Why would someone rather do business with you than your neighbor?

Is your farm’s culture memorable and meaningful for everybody who encounters it?

Taylor is a fan of big ideas, radical innovations and leaders who think differently. But, he says, what he has come to appreciate is that the best leaders are the ones who care more than everybody else. 

“In the world with so many opportunities to cut corners and compromise on values, as leaders you have to create the conditions where people can work as distinctively as you hope to compete,” he says. 

Culture is hard to define, but your employees notice it. Are you on track? Read: Audit Your Culture

Am I learning as fast as the world is changing?

Leaders cannot limit their imagination by what they know, Taylor says. 

“One of the occupational hazards for leaders, especially in periods of great change, is what I think of as the ‘paradox of expertise,’” he says. “The longer you work in a field and the more accomplished you are, the harder it can be to see new patterns, new dangers, new possibilities. All too often, we let what we know limit what we can imagine, which is why the best leaders are the most insatiable learners.”

These questions help good leaders become great leaders.

“Remember, when it comes to making change, the ultimate challenge is not to outmuscle or even outhustle the competition,” Taylor says. “It’s to outthink the competition. If you as a leader are determined to keep learning as fast as the world is changing, you've got the best chance to outthink the competition.”

Your most valuable business asset is your team. How are you investing in this special group of people? Read: 6 Leadership Tactics to Employ

I had the pleasure of hearing Taylor speak a few years ago. Here is a brief take on his presentation about how to define your strategic position. He also has some compelling reasons for why you should write a failure resume. You can follow him at @williamctaylor