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Deal the Cards
by Andy
April 28, 2010

Companies do business.  Leaders influence it.  This is particularly true for established companies.  While all firms within a competitive set compete against each other, a select few influence success or failure for all.  That’s because category leaders are dealing the cards while the remaining players adjust to how they are dealt.  Those being dealt to must either accept the cards they get or break out of vendor status and start writing rules more favorable to them.

That’s how business works.  By relegating competitors to “vendor” status leaders can better showcase their value proposition to your customers and prospects.

This is why leadership is so critical to success.  Leaders should not merely be defined by their company’s success, but how they’re able to influence the market so it is in the best position to win.  To me, a successful company merely proves that leadership was effective in influencing the market prior to transactions occurring.  They put the company in position to capture more opportunities more often.

Yes, leadership must be strong at business.  That is a prerequisite.  They need to understand the internal workings of how the firm makes money, protect its IP from interlopers, understand financial statements, be a Six-Sigma efficiency expert and all the other required mandates.  Effective leadership is about creating opportunities for success that are beyond the firm.

I liken it to the weather.  Leadership must do what it can to create favorable winds so the company can sail faster.  A strong crew (employees and management) is perfectly capable of maximizing speed, but without strong and favorable winds a company can list.  Leadership must fan the winds of success beyond the virtual four walls of the company they captain.  The more they fan, the faster the company sails.

So how do you do that?  Rather than using leadership only as an extended salesperson for a company’s products or services, it should be used to explain vision for the category – where it’s heading, why that will occur, how all will benefit.  When enough start to appreciate that perspective, the category starts to share a unified opinion – one drafted by and linked to you.  Communicate this enough times and the broader category starts to turn your direction.  Assuming your company’s sails are set to profit on that vision, you start transitioning from vendor to leader.

And you start dealing the cards.

12 Responses to “Deal the Cards”

  1. Absolutely! Leaders are not defined merely by their company’s success.
    But companies are ultimately defined by the success of their leadership, or lack thereof!
    Strong, visible leadership can make all the difference in the world.

  2. Absolutely! Leaders are not defined merely by their company’s success.
    But companies are ultimately defined by the success of their leadership, or lack thereof!
    Strong, visible leadership can make all the difference in the world.

  3. This post is spot on. And it is brilliantly written. Genuine leaders deal the cards. Managers and supervisors receive them. Genuine leaders communicate a vision; a vision of where their enterprise is going and how it will get there. Communicating that vision is why they’re holding the deck.

  4. This post is spot on. And it is brilliantly written. Genuine leaders deal the cards. Managers and supervisors receive them. Genuine leaders communicate a vision; a vision of where their enterprise is going and how it will get there. Communicating that vision is why they’re holding the deck.

  5. It is often that the most interesting chemistry is found in those “soon to be” leaders of a category. For while the most difficult challenge is leading from a position of category leader, the most interesting to watch are those challenging the leader. That’s where those “ah-ha” moments happens for us all.

  6. It is often that the most interesting chemistry is found in those “soon to be” leaders of a category. For while the most difficult challenge is leading from a position of category leader, the most interesting to watch are those challenging the leader. That’s where those “ah-ha” moments happens for us all.

  7. Excellent analogies! I like and can relate to both the card dealing and weather metaphors — and I’m sure most others in business can, as well. Makes sense for a leader to do all these things, and yet, sometimes, it seems so difficult for “leaders” to understand these oh-so critical responsibilities.

  8. Excellent analogies! I like and can relate to both the card dealing and weather metaphors — and I’m sure most others in business can, as well. Makes sense for a leader to do all these things, and yet, sometimes, it seems so difficult for “leaders” to understand these oh-so critical responsibilities.

  9. Well said. We see it all the time. Provide your employees with an easy to understand strategy. Train them well and equip them with the tools to be successful. Then let them do their jobs. Too much direction and you get into micro-management. I know a sales manager in the insurance business who had to have his email checked by his new boss to ensure the content and style were consistent with the goals of the business unit. Within a matter of weeks this highly qualified employee lost his motivation. Couldn’t talk to his boss, “just do as I say.” Not surprisingly he is now working for a competitor taking share from his former employer…and his ex-boss.

  10. Well said. We see it all the time. Provide your employees with an easy to understand strategy. Train them well and equip them with the tools to be successful. Then let them do their jobs. Too much direction and you get into micro-management. I know a sales manager in the insurance business who had to have his email checked by his new boss to ensure the content and style were consistent with the goals of the business unit. Within a matter of weeks this highly qualified employee lost his motivation. Couldn’t talk to his boss, “just do as I say.” Not surprisingly he is now working for a competitor taking share from his former employer…and his ex-boss.

  11. It is often that the most interesting chemistry is found in those “soon to be” leaders of a category. For while the most difficult challenge is leading from a position of category leader, the most interesting to watch are those challenging the leader. That’s where those “ah-ha” moments happens for us all.

  12. It is often that the most interesting chemistry is found in those “soon to be” leaders of a category. For while the most difficult challenge is leading from a position of category leader, the most interesting to watch are those challenging the leader. That’s where those “ah-ha” moments happens for us all.

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