Overcoming the Leadership Gap; published by BPO Media
Helping imaging dealers move forward progressively
There is a divide in leadership today, one that exists at two levels of the organization and is perpetuated from the top down. However, this is not an intentional fallacy or devious plot for subordination and mediocrity. Rather, this divide is the reflection of a deeply rooted and interconnected generation of leaders that rose to success in the same era, making use of similar strategies at similar companies producing similar solutions. Yet today, these successful leaders find themselves, knowingly or not, in conflict with or an obstacle to next-generation success. In this article, we’ll explore what we will coin the “leadership gap” and will reveal the associated fallout, as well as opportunities to be realized and modes of execution.
To begin, let’s consider the demographics and motivations of the current leadership in the imaging channel. When you look around the executive circle predominant in organizations, you will find baby boomers, folks that were born between 1946 and 1964. This means that today these individuals are in their 60s and 70s and looking toward retirement. And when retirement is on the horizon is when the leadership gap is at its strongest.
Motivations of retiring baby boomers do not align with the motivations of rising talent — Generation X and, in some cases, millennial leaders. We find that baby boomers look to drive revenue and sell or partner with private equity and seek acquisition growth prior to full earn-out. These motivations pay little attention to the initiatives of active Gen X leaders or the customer base.
Within this same construct of the leadership gap, we find Gen X professionals focused on new programs, new products, improved deliverables, increased automation and efficiency, changing work environments, alternate communication and meaningful culture. Gen X leaders are focused on building their teams authentically and improving the business from all angles. They are still building their careers and are primed for stepping into that next business role, and it is up to the current executive leadership to recognize this energy and the ability to rise even higher than standard complacency by allowing their next-gen leaders to thrive. Mentor, train, and unleash your best talent!
“Top of the org chart” executives are likely no longer the workflow experts in the company, nor is that where their value should be. But this expertise does exist within the organization at the next level. These are the folks who integrate with the front line as well as the customer and set standards of excellence. Those leaders can and should benchmark their staff for multiple facets of excellence. Additionally, they should justify any project expense in terms of ROI, so decision making and forward progress is supported by positive financial outcome.
Specifically, look to embrace program review. What sort of contract types are you supporting, how aged and individual are they and can they be upgraded to eliminate antiquated service models? What does that do for GP, efficiency, and opportunity cost? Also, review your billing schedules. Do they still make sense, or can adjustments be made to reduce labor and manage staff planning? In that vein, please invite your administrative manager to the executive table. On dealership visits, we rarely find administrative representation at the executive planning table, yet this person oversees the abilities and systems for executing program deliverables. Explore distribution billing and the many benefits to be had at the organization: revenue and profit by device, sales planning, tax compliance, and automating customized invoicing to name a few.
HINT – don’t be discouraged by a CFO that rebukes due to historical accounting. There has to be a cutover for excellence at some point, and back-end accounting needs cannot govern front-end deliverable effectiveness. Don’t be discouraged by the weight of the task of converting contracts. Apply a system, schedule, and deadline instead, as everything in business comes back to process!
When you begin to explore your current systems, you have the opportunity to start asking questions again. Interview your team to understand how each member views their job responsibilities as well as their job authorities. To have authorities by role, we must introduce controls to each position. Controls allow for excellence and management to best practice. They also increase employee autonomy and contribution while creating efficiencies for all.
In a time of increased customer-centricity and disruptive competition, the organization must continue to develop internally, improve customer offerings and accessibility, and increase employee commitment, as skilled and creative tenured talent will be critical to narrowing the leadership gap and ensuring lasting success.