Retail Executive

NOV/DEC 2017

Retail Executive is the trusted advisor to top retail executives from the industry’s most profitable retailers. We help retail executives succeed in their job role and grow their business via exclusive, actionable, peer-driven content.

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A Playbook sults in failure today. There is no playbook for CEOs any longer. And in this new age, with nothing to depend on except instinct, it is even more important to know ev- erything as well as what's around the corner. Being a leader in any organization can be a lonely job. This feeling is only accentuated in periods of great ac- celeration and uncertainty. In times like these, prepara- tion becomes an essential skill — not only preparation for the immediate and near-term, but also building a state of future-readiness. Over recent years, as the pace of change and deci- sion-making has increased, an organization's outlook has become more fixated on the short term. In such moments, it is even more essential to take a long view; a long-term outlook is the best way to protect and grow a business in times of rapid change and uncertainty. A long-term view, while valuable, is but only one el- ement of a future-fit leader. Our research over the last couple of years into what makes some leaders more fit for the future than others has revealed that there are six key critical behaviors that leaders will need to ex- emplify to prepare for, and secure, the best possible fu- tures for their businesses. Future-fit leaders plan for change; they think about the future and take the long view. Secondly, they are continuously innovating, exemplifying a commitment to evolve, improve, and develop. Next, and probably more important than the ability to innovate, is the agil- ity to act, which means that leaders should be able to quickly take practical steps to bring about changes in themselves or their organizations. Fourth is the per- mission in the minds of colleagues and stakeholders to stretch into new roles should opportunities present themselves. Next, future-fit leaders behave in a con- scious way toward their community, environment, and planet and take significant steps to be aware of and re- duce negative impacts. And finally, leaders who are fit for the future are ones who take good care of the ulti- mate resource — their employees. A future-fit leader not only strives for a highly engaged, motivated team, but also has high levels of diversity within teams and a high proportion of women in senior and board positions. To be truly prepared, as fit for the future as one can be, a leader must excel in all of these behaviors. As in per- sonal fitness, just buying the best gym kit is not enough — it must be combined with a good diet, exercise, men- tal toughness, and commitment. These six behaviors embody the future-fit leader. A leader who can succeed without a playbook and feel prepared for what's next. Preparation is everything, especially if you want to turn uncertainty into opportunity. R e were in the age of certainty. Not so long ago we had all the answers. Google was "organizing the world's information," and we believed that all problems — even social problems — could be solved by tech. We would know what every consumer wants and, thanks to GPS, we would know where everyone and ev- erything was. And with Wikipedia, we would also know the history of any event, person, or idea. The world was a more predictable place, and we had models and methods and tricks of the trade that, if fol- lowed, would result in business growth. As long as we read the right books, followed the lessons of successful leaders, and stuck to the fundamentals laid out by the great management thinkers, business would proceed down its natural course toward inevitable success. UNCERTAINTY IS BACK In fact, uncertainty never went away. We just chose to ig- nore it, mistakenly believing that there is more value in certainty — more cultural currency in conviction — than there is in ambiguity. The digital evangelists had some- how convinced us that the world was rational, that we were rational, not unlike machines. Equally, they con- vinced us that the old analog world of emotions and fric- tions, affections and reactions, was irrational and could therefore be overcome through information and analysis. Today, the rules of business seem to shift by the hour. What seemed to guarantee success last week only re- T R E V O R H A R D Y is Chief Executive of The Future Laboratory. He advises boards and leadership teams on how to harness the long view and how a long-term outlook is the best way to protect and grow a business in times of rapid change and uncertainty. Each future-fit leader embodies six distinct behaviors. T R E V O R H A R D Y CEO, The Future Laboratory Winning Without W LEADERSHIP LESSONS Insights By T. Hardy WINNING WITHOUT A PLAYBOOK RETAILEXECUTIVE.COM NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017 42

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