It’s Really Tough
You are leading a very successful enterprise in airplanes, automobiles, mobile devices, healthcare — or perhaps higher education. The business model that got you to where you are — successful, profitable — seems to be faltering. The growth of revenue is diminishing while costs are escalating. The costs of infrastructure — physical, financial and human — are inexorably growing. Customers seem to be sticking with you, but they are not happy. Cynical jokes are pervasive.
What should you do? How about sticking to the knitting? Just keep doing what you have always done, perhaps a little bit better and a lot cheaper. If you need to sell airline seats as cheaply as possible, charge people for everything else — baggage, food, entertainment, bathrooms, and seat belts. If revenue comes from students in seats, put hundreds of students in each classroom. Let the students sit in the aisles unless the fire marshal protests.
Perhaps you should lead the enterprise towards a new business model. Rethink the whole transportation or education experience. But, this requires a lot of courage because most if not all of the key stakeholders are clinging to the status quo. Embracing change means creating enemies — people whose rice bowls are threatened by change. Leading change requires strong self-confidence and abilities to absorb enormous criticism. You will be challenging many people’s comfort zones.
What about your comfort zone? Do you need everyone to be happy? Do you need everyone to like you? What if your vision of an alternative future is wrong? What if the faltering status quo is as good as it gets? The key question is whether you are willing and able to lead in times of change. It’s really tough because you cannot be sure of what will happen and whether you will succeed. However, you can be sure that your willingness and abilities are exactly why they gave you the job in the first place.