But the answer always lies with leadership.
The role of any inspired leader is to energise their people towards their vision and to create more leaders; ensuring the highest levels of business can compete globally, embrace the future and not dwell on the past.
This is not a tangible skill. It cannot be learnt out of a text book or on the internet. It needs to be witnessed, discussed and absorbed first hand.
If management is all about process, tasks, plans, implementation and execution then leadership is something entirely different. It’s about people and vision.
We need to explode the myth that you can be promoted from being a manager to being a leader. It’s far more than that; it’s about your attitude and mindset.
You’ve got to WANT to be a leader and anyone in the business can step up to the plate; be it a sales executive to a project manager to a director.
Leadership is not about hierarchy, it’s about those who ask themselves the relevant questions.
What am I great at? Why would people want to work for me? Why do people engage and connect with me?
The first question remains the most vital and the rest will follow on naturally once you are seen to be brilliant at something.
And yet finding out what we are great at can be the hardest and most fundamental task we will ever face.
Are you brilliant with customers? Fabulous with numbers? Good at seeing the bigger picture? Punctual and logical?
Finding the answer doesn’t have to be such a challenge.
“Things I really enjoy I tend to be good at. Things I tend to be good at I really enjoy.”
Once you start to unravel the different strands of what you are great at then your leadership brand can be built around these strengths. Remember a brand is the promise of an experience and if that promise is not fulfilled then your customers’ (in this case your people’s) reaction will be both swift and severe; you must be brutally honest with yourself and strive for authenticity.
You can’t pretend or make up what you WANT to be good at. It must be what you ARE good at.
Think about the best leaders you have worked with and their standout strength will often be their authenticity. Look around us – Bill Gates will always be a geek but it doesn’t stop him from being one of the most inspirational and smartest leaders around.
You don’t have to have charisma or be able to address a crowd.
You just need to resonate with your people.
Think a little about two other great leaders, one old and one new. Nelson Mandela has a personal brand based purely on humility and self belief and everything he has achieved has stemmed from these traits. Barack Obama’s brand is based on the simple tenets of hope, optimism and eloquence and it has propelled him to near the top of the American tree.
But neither is perfect. No leader can has to be good at everything.
Instead they surround themselves with people that compensate for their weaknesses, leaving them the time to expose their strengths on a regular basis.
You can still be the conductor of the orchestra without knowing how to play every instrument; leaders are those that can tell stories and give their team the space to evolve, make their own conclusions and find their own way.
In every appraisal throughout my career I have been told repeatedly where my faults lie and what my areas for improvement are. The list is as long as my arm but I have been fortunate enough to stumble across the answer to the question “what are you great at?”
So give it some thought. If you can work it out for me then you can work it out for yourself and it might just be the one simple thing that changes your career.