Transforming Leadership: Are Your Executives Treading Water?

Executives are not exempt from stretch goals. Some risks are self-inflicted. Treading water is a short term option. It is up to business leaders to keep up to date and have eyes and ears constantly collecting what’s cutting edge. Outdated mindsets are good for the competition and bad for retention of critical talent.

Few will dispute that business isn’t about to return to the way it was; or that what got you here won’t get you there. In the last 3 years your industry has changed, your customer is more demanding, your workforce is honing their marketability and your competition is getting tougher.

You have clarified what your core business is and cut costs. Next is finding growth opportunities and this depends upon how your executive team has evolved. The price of entry now is much greater than three years ago. You recall it being challenging then, but in hindsight it seems like a cakewalk. Many companies continue to measure the same results today as they did then. Are you giving more weight to the upside than the downside? Are you relying on gut assumptions vs. risk assessment?

Measuring the same results can be risky for a few reasons:

  1. Striving for consistency can kill incentive to seek new opportunities.
  2. The energy expended to merely meet these targets may be sapping growth.
  3. Some mistakenly believe today’s success is a guarantee of tomorrow’s success.

New and growth opportunities are essential to the health of the business. It’s grueling to go from travelling on a paved road to suddenly finding yourself on a river. What works in one place doesn’t in the other. It requires a different vehicle and a different set of skills. Pressure and turbulence are reshaping your business.

Your company’s future depends upon your executives having the discipline to explore new and uncertain areas. Your team has been under pressure to deal with a variety of disruptions. Their solid mainstream experience and expertise has kept the business afloat and stable for now. But are they multifunctional and multidimensional enough to identify and drive growth opportunities? Are they as adept on water as they are on pavement?

Treading water is a short term option and can absorb too much of management’s attention. Valuable clues can be found by being responsive to what is going on around you and deciphering what those clues mean to stakeholders,employees and the future of your business.

Judi Walsh is an executive coach to critical talent and management teams. Her discovery driven coaching accelerates development for leaders who want or must lead in new ways. For more of Judi’s ideas on Transforming Leadership visit


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