The Art of Leadership rolled into Vancouver on Friday featuring 5 world renowned authors giving their unique slant on the topic. Leadership means different things to different people in different situations but two common themes kept bubbling to the surface at this event: that in order to be an effective leader you need to be creative and that you should embrace your fear.
Tammy Heermann talked about strategy end effectiveness. Build your strategic muscle by asking strategic questions (building connections, impact and tension). Focus on the customer and link to broader goals that can be quantified.
Artwork by Tristan Millar
Sir Ken Robinson pointed out that innovation and energy are key aspects of leadership. We think that life is linear (like your resume!) but it’s not. Life is composed as you live it and as a leader you don’t have to know everything to be effective but you do have to be able to think creatively. People feed off each other and effective organisations are those are able to innovate and transform.
Ron Tite pointed out that reinvention is critical for leaders. We are all artists and should be rebels with a cause. In order to succeed your personal values must align with your business values. Great leaders believe in something greater, great artists do it to do it. He reminded us to be anti establishment and not to fear failure.
Michael Bungay Stanier talked about the 3 vicious circles that leaders face: you either feel overwhelmed, or like an over dependent teen (the more advice you give the more they want), or you feel a sense of disconnect. We all do good, great or bad work – it’s the proportions that count. Great work gives us impact and meaning. He reminded us to say less and ask more.
Neil Pasricha talked about how to be happy. When we are little we’re told to work hard, be a success and happiness will follow when in fact it is the opposite. Start by being happy, do great work and then big success comes. Here’s a recipe for happiness (based on major studies done on the topic):
- Take 3 nature walks per week
- Journal the best parts of your day
- Do 5 conscious acts of kindness per week
- Be thankful for 5 things that happened each week.
Track your happiness – when our minds are focused we’re happier. We all feel fear – the key is to just do it, turn fear into bigger success.
Tom Peters SMEI Hall of Fame Honoree with SMEI CEO Willis Turner
Tom Peters pointed out that managing is a pain but it’s also one of the best life opportunities you can get. Excellence is not a long term achievement; it is what you do in the next 5 minutes. Whoever tries the most stuff and screws up most wins – the faster you fail the faster you will succeed. The four most important questions you can ask in a company are “What do you think.?”. Women have better leadership qualities and success rate than men, they tend to be better at taking initiative and driving results. Listening is key to respect, engagement, community and growth – we have to listen to succeed.
Boeing, the US plane producer, once the world’s biggest aircraft maker based on its global market share may have learned one person’s poison is other person’s meat. In this case, it translates to one company’s failure is another company’s success. Sadly, it is a fail-win situation. Blue ocean strategy teaches us to look for the failures in your competitors to exploit the opportunities to create a niche product that would appeal to those customers that are fallen by the side by the competitors. It is one way of making the fierce competition irrelevant. Boeing and Airbus teach us just that. Airbus rose up to the occasion when airliners felt the need for more efficient aircraft when Boeing got too caught up in the Dreamliner program.
Boeing going gone
Recently with the partial lifting of US economic sanctions in Iran the plane maker has reached a deal to sell 100 new planes to Iran Air. However, in between being considered the largest aircraft maker and the Iran Air deal it was on a downhill path. Plane makers were creating a vacuum in the industry. Airbus took advantage of the opportunity and manufactured aircraft to fill the vacuum. Airbus applied the Blue Ocean Strategy from which Sales and Marketing Professionals can learn a few lessons. To put it in context it is worth exploring the rival company, the European plane producer Airbus, and its global market share in comparison to Boeing.
Airbus in business
Europe’s aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, is passionate about aviation and designs the world’s best and efficient aircraft, and is reputed to shape the future of air transportation by regularly capturing half of all commercial airliner orders. In 1995 it became the first plane maker to allow airlines to function without the need for financing a fleet. In the recent decade at an enormous expense, it developed the A380 superjumbo, albeit not yet with enough orders, is another feather in its cap. Airbus entered into the business 50 years after Boeing began its market share domination. It had the confidence and the guts to take Boeing by its horns despite being a less established company than Boeing. What would be interesting is to analyze how it stacks up against its counterpart based in the US.
Boeing vs. Airbus
Since the 1990s, the airliner market was a duopoly one with just Boeing and Airbus enjoying the space. However, Boeing’s unassailable lead in the sector of commercial airliners came under threat from Airbus when since 2012 the European firm outpaced it with the number of orders. Boeing’s failures include pricking its pride when it could not manage to stay head to head with Airbus who has been in business for less than half its time. What most companies fail to do is to use its Sales and Marketing force to analyze the competitive landscape on a regular basis either monthly or quarterly. What did Boeing do to reach a situation where Airbus out-competed it using fifth fewer employees? It failed to look beyond the horizon at its immediate competitor.
Boeing’s Dreamliner turns to nightmare
The Dreamliner program that projectedÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â to cost $6 billion and take off in 5 years instead took $32 billion and eight years to complete due to technical failures and supply chain hassles. Production of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, the first commercial plane made of lightweight composite materials, was outsourced to global suppliers causing mounting costs and delays. Caught up in its execution Boeing’s plans for the rest of its other fleet became. The Dreamliner Programme utilized the entire resources of the company, and that consumed the corporation for a long time. While Boeing had its head deep in the sand like an ostrich, so to speak, it created a perfect space for its rival company based in Europe, Airbus, to jump in and carve a blue ocean strategy to expand its market share.
Blue ocean strategy of Airbus
The blue ocean strategy of Airbus took the form of taking a lead in fuel-efficient narrow-body jets resulting in more orders for its A320 neo planes that entered service this year than its counterpart 737MAX which is not destined for delivery until next year. Boeing’s troubles with the Dreamliner also helped Airbus win more orders of its wide-bodied jet A350 because Boeing’s 777X is not expected to be due until 2020. This saga is a classic example of how Blue Ocean strategies can be created by carefully observing the gaps in the operations of competitors. Marketing then is a function of a company that finds the crack between the needs of the customers and the products offered in the market and plugging the gaps by introducing innovative solutions thus making the competition irrelevant.
Sales and marketing parallel
Drawing parallels from the Airbus-Boeing case study, Marketing Professionals can better align their market share strategies to fill the gaps in the market created by their competitors through close observance and thorough analysis. Sales revenue can be generated not only by satisfying customer needs but also by stepping in to fill the blanks in the target market. More often than not expansion plans of a rival company can be an opportunity for another company to service the customers left by the side by the expanding company who get carried away in the execution of plans.
If in a duopoly market like that of aircraft manufacturers that is highly regulated blue ocean strategy works one can be forgiven to believe that they can be set up in almost any market if one starts thinking out of the box. It requires an entrepreneurial spirit and innovative mind. Companies should encourage Sales and Marketing Professionals to think beyond or without the box so that their creative juices begin to pump in. Otherwise, it would be another case of Boeing Going Gone where a company that is half its age – Airbus – takes over within a matter of very short period.
To learn more about market share and how to dominate your market, consider the SMEI Certified Marketing Executive program.