Transformational Leaders Needed for this Industry
Since I joined the hardcopy supplies industry in 1987, I have held a variety of positions in a variety of organizations exhibiting a variety of cultures.
I have reported to, and worked with, a variety of people with different “styles.” I have had the privilege of working with inspired leaders and benefited from their mentorship and vision. I have also experienced the “boss,” someone who demands compliance by virtue of their position and title, and where a response is based on authority rather than goodwill.
I know which culture I prefer! And I know which is more effective.
As our markets become ever more challenging, transformation is required for companies to grow again. Our industry needs fewer “bosses” and more leaders. These leaders must create and deliver transformational change.
“Knock on more doors.” “Be more aggressive.” “Make more calls.” “We need more volume.” “Look, just sell more toner, will you?” These are not the solutions for toner cartridge (re)manufacturers whose value propositions have become stale and outdated. Such an approach does not address the changing nature of the market, the increased role of technology, the changing procurement habits of generations Y and Z, and the myriad of other challenges that I have referenced in previous columns.
The model for “transformational leadership” focuses on visionary thinking and bringing about change. It is needed more than ever, given the current state of our industry. Transactional leadership, in which management attempts to maintain and steadily improve current performance, isn’t going to cut it.
If your sales teams do not have new tools, new talk tracks, new solutions, new ways to engage new customers, complaining about the numbers on the weekly sales report is not going to fix it. Transformational leaders always have a vision.
This is a realistic, convincing and attractive picture of what the business should look like in the future. This vision provides direction, sets priorities, and has mileposts for measuring progress. Analysis, creativity and intuition are essential for a vision to be realistic as well as stretching.
A good analysis would include: the organization’s core competencies, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; the intensity of competitive rivalry; bargaining power of both suppliers and customers; and crucially for our industry today, the threat of new entrants and substitute products and solutions; and knowledge of the macroenvironment, political, economic, social and technological.
By understanding the current situation, thinking about how the market will evolve and by predicting how the competitors will behave, it is possible to develop the vision, and formulate innovative strategies to achieve that vision. Creating the vision and designing the strategies is one thing.
Execution is something else entirely. This is where good leaders are worth their weight in gold. Transformational Leaders are successful because they motivate their teams. They explain the vision in a way that can be seen, felt, understood and embraced by all those that are needed to make it happen. They use the vision to create shared values that are meaningful and relevant for all team members. Transformational leaders successfully execute by coaching, guiding and mentoring.
They don’t direct. They encourage rather than criticize. They recognize and optimize natural talent rather than point out weaknesses. They focus on the team and not on themselves. They inspire performance instead of demanding results. They develop rather than manipulate their people. Goodwill replaces authority. They generate enthusiasm, not fear.
Are you in a leadership position? Do you have a transformational vision for your organization? Are you motivating and inspiring your people to achieve it?
Dwight Eisenhower said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he or she wants to do it.”
Mark Dawson is RT Imaging World’s Regional Partner for Europe and the Middle East.
He joined the imaging supplies industry in 1987 and has held senior positions with both American and European corporations, including MSE and Clover. He is currently a director with IOP (Internet of Printing BV) whose mission is to help independent resellers ﬁnd new revenue streams and optimize margins.
Dawson is partnering with RT to bring VIP Expo one day intensive events to Europe and the Middle East. For more information please contact him at <mark@ iopbv.com>
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