7 Leadership Lessons From 3D Businesses


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3D Businesses are ‘Dramatically and Demonstrably Different’ in their approach to leadership and leadership development – I’ve just presented to a group of forward thinking business leaders here in Sheffield and thought I’d share the key messages from the session.

It’s not a list of ‘do’s and dont’s’, but some ideas for you to consider in maximising leadership potential in your business. You can also download the slides from the session here:

Here are 7 Leadership Lessons:

1. They Recognise There’s A Difference Between Management And Leadership!

Managers are critical to any business for ensuring that targets are communicated, resources are allocated, progress is monitored and reported. Leaders think strategically, look forward and create vision. They inspire, challenge and engage others. 3D businesses establish what leadership means in their business and it’s not a job title! They spell out the behaviours they want, create leadership at every level of the business and proactively develop their leaders. That means equipping their prospective leaders with the skills they need before they need them!

2. They Encourage ‘Strategic Thinking’

There are 3 levels of thinking in business: strategic, operational and tactical. In many businesses, the leaders get caught up in the ‘day to day’ tactical stuff. In 3D businesses, leaders (at every level, remember) are encouarged to diary time to work ‘ON’ the business, not just ‘IN’ it, and ‘strategic thinking’ time is legitimised. In fact, it is expected of leaders – it’s a fundamental element of the job!

3. They ‘Get That Vision Thing’!

This is all about using the strategic time to look forwards. It’s not about creating a business plan or a set of financial figures, but a picture of the future that ‘stimulates, excites and inspires’. In 3D businesses, there’s an overall ‘vision’ for the business, but a real differentiator is the fact that vision is cascaded right down the business with each manager and team leader creating and sharing their own visions for their part of the business. (Again, it’s about ‘leadership at every level’).

4. They ‘Get Engaged’!

A key characteristic of 3D businesses is that they work hard to get engagement at every level. People feel part of, and have bought into, the business and its aims, they understand what’s expected of them, and are given the tools, support an dresources to make it happen. Crucially, they are kept well informed of how they are doing, as a business, as a team, and as an individual – it’s about keeping the vision ‘alive’!

5. It’s All About Behaviours!

The culture of 3D businesses is often a real ‘Differentiator’, and it is driven by the leaders (again, at every level). We describe ‘culture’ as the ‘way we do things around here’ and in 3D businesses, it is not left to chance. They clearly spell out the behaviours they expect from their people, and recognise and reward those that display those behaviours. As well as ‘championing those champions’, they ‘challenge the challangers’ too – the leaders act as real role models when it comes to this ‘culture’ stuff!

6. Their Leaders Don’t Just ‘Think Out Of The Box’, They ‘Get Out Of The Box’!

This is all about encouraging people to ‘get out there’ and enagaging with others outside the ‘comfort zone’ of their own part of the business. From simply creating time to work with other departments and locations across the business, to ‘fishing in different ponds’ which means other companies, other industries, even other countries and cultures. As well as giving them the encouragement to do so, they also equip them with the skills and tools to do so.

7. They Create ‘Enemies Of The Status Quo’!

A great quote from William Wrigley Jr sums this up nicely “When 2 people in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary”. 3D businesses encourage their leaders to ask questions, challenge things, ‘break the rules’, spot things qoing wrong and fix them. They encourage them to do the same with their people, and they establish systems and processes to encourage and embed this throughout the business.

Of course, when it comes to leadership, 3D businesses do much more than this, but hopefully it gives you something to think about, and maybe even see how you ‘measure up’.

(If you’re ‘local’, you might be interested in our Drive Up and On programme for senior leaders and our UCLA programme for ‘Up and Coming Leaders Accelerator’ programme which both start in January – please get in touch with Jill if you want more information)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Andy Hanselman
Hi there! I help businesses and their people create competitive advantage by 'Thinking in 3D'! That means being 'Dramatically and Demonstrably Different'! I research, speak about, write about and work with businesses to help them maximise their sales and marketing, their customer service and their customer relationships.


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