10 www. bus- ex. com February 10 " The five practices mentioned are all about having focus on the important things that will grow their business in a new era. Business leaders will discover that life after the recession will be a new challenge unlike what they are used to. Now is not the time to bury their heads in the sand. It is time to think different, look for new ways to do business and be focused on the right things." On first glance, the five practices may seem simple, but Bridle insists that leaders need to develop the habit of digging a little deeper. " If you say ' think global', people assume this refers to globalisation or geographically, a wider area. Or you might say, ' think wider' and people think you mean thinking outside the box. The feedback I'm getting is, that is important but it encompasses that and more: think wider than you are now; think what alliances you have formed and who you partner with; think what markets you are in now; think about whether you are really in the marketplace that you think you're in- maybe your market has changed, or maybe your market is moving. Be open to thinking of other things you can do and other services that you offer that you have maybe taken for granted in the past." Bridle cites the example of the American car manufacturers to illustrate exactly why businesses need to think beyond their current processes. " If you look at General Motors and Chrysler, they were so tied up in their systems and their processes and their procedures and their production lines- how to speed the production line up, how to make their processes better, how to add an extra gadget to the car, whether to change the colour of the car- but in actual fact, people were wanting cars that were cheaper to run. The price of the car was irrelevant to people, because credit was so easy. Chrysler, General Motors and even Ford to a large degree weren't even looking at that; they were looking at their own existing processes and trying to improve them. " So to think global is to stop thinking about how you have done things traditionally and to ask yourself: what really matters? Where is the real value that you're offering the client, who could you partner with and are you still in the same industry as you were or are you in a slightly different industry?"
Strategic management February 10 www. bus- ex. com 11 pay the price of recruiting the right people in the first place and it will pay you back a hundred- fold going forward. People absolutely see it as now fundamental after the recession- that you have the right people to work with." So those are the ' do' principles; what about the ' don'ts'? " I would say a big mistake would be for leaders not to raise their game- thinking that they have a certain leadership style and that's the style that's going to work. Everybody has an expiry date; everybody has a point at which they are no longer the best person in that position. Leaders should know and recognise when they are not the right person for the job any more and when it's time to move on, or raise their game, or change their style. I say to leaders, ' If you want your people to change, then you have to be an example of change'. A fundamental mistake is a lack of willingness to adapt and shift your leadership style." Bridle is a firm believer that inflexible leaders do not truly understand what it means to lead. " A lot of them see leadership as a way of working their way into a job instead of out. I believe leadership is working your way out of a job, not the other way around. Being a manager is working your way into a job- I accept that, because management is about systems and processes- but leadership is about working your way out; it's empowering your people; it's engaging with your people so that they can run the place without you and you can move on to greater things. And not many people grasp that concept. They want to be around for 10 years, make their mark and then walk out with a pocket full of money. Very few people really understand the essence of leadership." For Bridle, the recession serves as one very harsh lesson. " You know, this is a terrible expression, but I've heard it used a few times: ' don't waste a good recession'. At the end of the day, a recession is a really good time for people to go back to basics and look at if they got distracted; if they are really on course; if they are doing what they should be doing; if they over- employed, etc. And I think businesses have largely done that. The ones that have gone bust are the ones that weren't good businesses anyway. They were only surviving." Survival has certainly been the buzz word over the past few months; but as the business world leaves the recession behind and growth returns, however tentatively, there is every chance that Bridle's research could form a blueprint for recovery among business leaders across the globe. - www. paulbridle. com Being a master of your craft is also a shift that Bridle can see taking place within the business community. " This is about finding what you're really good at and doing what you're really good at. The feedback I got is that we'll see a lot more sub- contracting and outsourcing, even down to quite menial jobs. People just don't want to have to get involved with things which are not their area of expertise. To be a master of your craft is vitally important." Bridle was unsurprised to see branding featuring heavily among leaders' new priorities. " Everything you do is about the brand; everything that you do is consciously contributing towards the brand or taking away from the brand. A company's brand- its image and what it stands for- will be even more important, particularly with the digital generation who are very brand conscious as well. Protect the brand at all costs- that is how I would summarise it." The risk takers of the financial world have shouldered much of the blame for the onset of the recession. But Bridle has seen no let- up in the importance of risk in leaders' opinions. Rather, they have now simply added a caveat: take the risks, but pay attention while you're doing so. " This is quite an interesting one, because it recognises that a lot more creativity and innovation is going to be needed," says Bridle. " But balance it with attention to detail. Obviously you have to take risks- it's OK to take risks- but check the downsides. Watch out for those little things that make a big difference- if you let those go, you can be as innovative as you like but you'll end up like the banks did when they just didn't pay attention to the detail and ran into real trouble." Bridle has been hearing from leaders that being cautious is good; but being cautious to the point where you are scared to make a decision is not good. " I don't think caution is actually going to be that big an issue, because leaders are willing to be innovative and creative and take a few risks. I don't think they're going to give up on risk- taking but I'm hoping they've learnt the lesson. I don't think we're going to become risk- averse as a general rule, but I do hope that we now keep a very strong balance on it going forward." ' Work with the best' is Bridle's final principle. " We've talked about this and things have been said about it for I don't know how many years now; but this came through from every single person that we spoke to and did the research with: recruit the right people and work with the best. Don't forgo getting the right person to work with- " Pay the price of recruiting the right people in the first place and it will pay you back a hundred- fold going forward"