Daily Archives: June 3, 2011

Elements of Leadership

A recent post over on ChiefExecutive.net on The Four Elements of Leadership had four great tips for helping you manage your top talent. In brief, they were:

  • Understand Your Role
    You’re a leader, not a manager. As a result, you direct, you don’t control.
  • Unify the Team
    Don’t divide the team, don’t add members that will divide the team, and if the team begins to divide, align them against you if need be (on a temporary basis).
  • Deference is for Managers
    If you get too accustomed to having people defer to you, you stop growing as a leader. The team should be empowered to make their own decisions, should know that you’re not the only expert, and should know that you don’t have all the answers and don’t expect that you do.
  • Deal with Differences
    Learn how to identify them, respect them, use them appropriately, and find a common language when not everyone thinks the same.

In other words, leaders lead, they don’t micromanage; they build a team, they don’t just put bodies in seats; they empower the team and acknolwledge their own limitations, they don’t see themselves as superior; and they understand.

It’s a good article with good advice.

Every Supply Management Vendor Should Review Their Strategy, Not Just Ariba

There was an interesting article over on Fast Company recently that described three steps for re-evaluating your company’s strategy. To illustrate why a company might need to reevaluate, the article chronicled Ariba’s rise, fall, and their recent 300% growth in their stock price over the last year.

According to the article, Ariba, which has a Supplier Network with over 500,000 participants that conducts 170B in transactions a year, had to change their model and refocus when their stock crashed from over $700 a share to $10 in a matter of months. This included opening up their network and switching to SaaS. Furthermore, according to the article, this change was the result of learning the following three strategic lessons:

  1. Don’t Confuse Missed Timing with Missed Vision
    Often the vision is right but ahead of its time.
  2. Look for the Rise in the Fall
    When a company is forced to revisit its strategy, it may find an opportunity it overlooked.
  3. Build the Snowball
    Find a solution that will draw in customers that will in turn draw in more customers.

While the lessons are important for Ariba, if Ariba has truly learned them (as I believe they could have done, and could still do, better than they have done with respect to lessons two and three), they are equally important for Ariba’s competitors. And, as the article points out, Ariba’s competitors have to ask the following questions:

  • If it ends up taking three times as long to achieve our vision, what would we do differently today?
    While some would argue the Supply Chain space is dead, only the leaders have adopted modern solutions, and the laggards are still struggling to get past a spreadsheet to an outdated ERP.
  • If our core business fails, how else could we profit from the assets and activities of our business?
    Sometimes it’s the right vision, but the wrong implementation. Sometimes an idea belongs in the consumer space. Sometimes the add-on becomes the application. And sometimes its just a different deployment model. The original business plan is just the starting point.
  • What is the kernal of our snowball?
    It’s all about making it almost viral.

If they do, many will be in a better position than they are today.