The Empty Plinth™: Towards a Better, Bolder Vision

Close up of eye with computer code

In the first blog in this seriesI explained why leaders simply must realise their great ambitions if they and their businesses are to thrive. The next question, of course, is “How?.”

This blog looks at the external enablers behind business success and, in particular, at how leaders can become more aware of the “bigger picture” in which they must operate. Only those leaders able to use this new understanding to commit to a better and bolder vision will prosper.

In our experience, a CEO needs to develop a comprehensive external understanding by:

  1. Seeing more effectively into the future – through a high-level grasp of the way the world is changing.
  2. Seeing their own business in a different light – particularly the synergies between its component parts.

If CEOs can harness these drivers, it will enable them to make better-informed decisions, and understand clearly how strategy will need to evolve in order to deliver success.

Seeing into the future

Leaders like Elon Musk, Bill Gates and a small handful of others are championed as “exceptional” for their ability to see the trends of the future. Herein lies a problem though: because they are exceptional, they seem hard to emulate.

Most CEOs do not spend nearly enough time thinking in this way. They are more likely to be thinking instead about giving shareholders a good return on their investment every year. In the day-to-day, thinking about the future may get squeezed, but at least the investors are happy.

For now, at least.

But this type of short-term thinking not only misses the point but is fatally flawed. If a CEO cannot understand the challenges of a fast-changing future, the business they run will be quickly consigned to history.

If CEOs want to seize the future, they have to think bigger – and become bolder. A CEO running a mining company, for example, should be looking carefully at rising sales of electric vehicles. The transition from petrol to electricity brings challenges, with a rapidly growing demand for different commodities to make a new generation of car batteries.

The good news is that seeing into the future becomes easier when a CEO takes the time to stop and consider the “Big Picture” present. Here are just a few global trends that most business leaders can see, with a little help:

  • The end of globalisation, and the dawn of regional socio-economic and political power blocs.
  • The emergence of a handful of powerful companies, with Amazon, Meta, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Gazprom and others, sometimes willing to strong-arm Governments on policy matters.
  • The diminishing impact western consumers may have, versus their increasingly affluent eastern peers.
  • The rise of technology, and particularly the development of artificial intelligence (AI), and the impact this will have on the future world of work.

How do CEOs begin their journey of exploration? Impartial external counsel enables a broader perspective, highlights the developments that risk disrupting them and be able to discuss even the most sensitive issues.

Seeing the business differently

A compelling vision should be simple, clear and bold – and create a unique selling point. And with this in place, the CEO can drive on further and faster and see the business and, in particular, the synergies between its component parts, in a very different light.

From then on, in our experience, success comes down to a fusion of mastering behaviour and skills. We work with people on the behavioural side of delivering the vision – and enable our clients to think very differently in the process. And we also work with the skills side, something which very few other organisations do. The best visions deliver results because they harness synergies from both across the business.

These, then, are the external enablers for a better, bolder vision. Other drivers behind business success are internal: how leaders can identify and address necessary changes in mental attitude, knowledge, skills and personal development.

And this will be the subject of our third and final blog.

Skein Advisory identifies and implements the changes needed to achieve strategic goals and financial results. Our expert advisory services are based on decades of experience at senior levels and contemporary research and analysis.

(c) Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay 

Tom Aldridge