Big question for new year

The Life: Since it is still early in the new year, every leader should ask themselves how they can improve on 2011.

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Since we are still early in the new year, there is one question that every leader should be asking: "How can we be better than last year?"

If you are content with the previous year's results, perhaps you can keep doing the same thing, even though this is not the wisest move. Doing the same thing assumes that the same market conditions, pricing strategies, product/labour costs and competition exist. But if you want to surpass last year, you will have to answer the question of how that is to be done.

Every business that wants to grow needs from its leaders a compelling answer to the question, because the only way to remain competitive and grow is to improve. Getting better is challenging for many leaders, as the rhythms of corporate life reward the practice of trying to do the same thing over and over again.

But we are well aware of the famed definition of insanity - doing the same thing again and again while hoping for a different result.

So, if you want to get better, what do you need to do?

The obsession across the region continues to be with growth, and not ordinary growth but rapid growth. As we look at what leaders can do to make their businesses better and expand them rapidly, keep in mind that there are different leadership models for regular growth and rapid growth - the latter defined as a rate of expansion 5 per cent or more in excess of the GDP growth rate of a market.

Companies are finding it difficult to grow rapidly and to capture more of the potential value available in the marketplace. How do you capture and manage potential value when it is growing at such a rate?

This uncertainty tends to manifest itself in organisational paralysis. The percentage of business opportunities available is rising exponentially, but the percentage of business opportunities being attacked, and therefore the value you can capture, is relatively static or at best is increasing only incrementally.

The consequence of this dismal reality, given the vast market potential available, is at best lost revenue. At worst, a head-in-the-sand approach to the challenge of rapid growth can lead to long and extending sales cycles and unpredictable business outcomes, even though the market opportunities are exploding.

Doing more of the same will not bring success in rapid growth. Five shifts need to be made to improve this year and to be a rapid-growth leader:

1. From motivation (helping people deliver results) to inspiration (people delivering results on their own)

2. From operational leadership (through process) to scalable leadership (through people)

3. From staffing positions (through headcount) to creating surplus value (through head-stretch)

4. From replicating quality (through directives) to accelerating improvement (through direction)

5. From uniform incrementalism (next step) to unique innovation (quantum leap)

Keep in mind that addressing these five shifts will also require building your leaders' capability to lead rapid growth.

Where will you focus this year to get better and improve your results?

Tommy Weir is an authority on fast-growth and emerging-market leadership, author of The CEO Shift and the managing director of the Emerging Market Leadership Center.