Breaking the Incremental Mindset Takes Data and Leadership Courage


leadership-courageWhat does it take to lead through the current challenges and opportunities at the same time thinking about the future disruptions that are going to shape the future markets well beyond your leadership tenure?

It takes the ability to think beyond the incremental and a focus on the data that will uncover the weak signals that provide the insights and ideas to develop innovative solutions that will disrupt the existing market.  It also takes leadership courage to drive change and think in new ways that nobody wants to hear or talk about.

This week, I had the privilege of working with a group of high potential leaders to develop their skills for thinking beyond the now and into the big bold future that awaits us all.  Here are some of the interesting findings, discussions, and insights for sharing:

Think Beyond the Incremental

People, real disruptive change is not increasing sales by 2.7% and profit by 1.5%.  That at its best is incremental change and incremental change is part of a legacy mindset that could end your career and lead your company to the graveyard of organizations that once rose to glory with innovative products but died when passed by a nimble, more innovative competitor.

Unfortunately, the data that I have gathered through our business simulation workshops that provide leaders with the opportunity to expand their business acumen and leadership skills clearly shows that too many leaders think incremental growth is good growth and hide behind data and a mindset that thinks small gains are good gain.  During one facilitated conversation a participant – who is in finance – spent more time defending a decrease in COGS of 50 basis points than he did looking for financing tools to support the growth of an Artificial Intelligence-based customer service solution that could attract new customers!

The Data to Disrupt

Of course, Market information, Income Statements, Balance Sheets, and Cash Flow reports are critical in to running the business, but they won’t give you the insights needed to look around the corner or listen to the weak signals.  This data will ONLY come from listening to your most innovative customers and subscribing to services that provide Macro Trends. Macro trends look at the big picture and provide nuggets of information that can be taken to the tactical level that can fuel R&D and other long-term investments.  For example, a Mega Trend is the 100% certainty that in the next 10 years cars and trucks will be fueled by energy other than gasoline and driven autonomously.  How is the realization of that fact going to impact your business? What other data sources do you need to understand the disruption about to hit your business and are you proactively exploring and acquiring it?

What is Leadership Courage in 2019 and Beyond?

There are probably an infinite number of definitions of leadership courage in our business lexicon.  Let me provide a simple one based on hundreds of conversations with empowered leaders dedicated to making a difference and finding ways to get to the next disruption.

Leadership courage is the ability to step outside of your comfort zone to challenge the orthodoxies and use your energy to drive a strategy that meets the needs of current and future customers. 

Here are five things that you can do tomorrow to be a more courageous leader:

  1. Embrace being uncomfortable
  2. Create an environment where your people feel encouraged to take risks and feel safe making mistakes and learning from them
  3. Drive for new skills and capabilities beyond what you have today
  4. Self-evaluate your skills and pivot if you are lacking in the competencies needed to take the business to a different level
  5. Leave your ego at the door and realize that there are lots of things you don’t yet know or understand

Happy to share more; Private Message me if you’d like to talk!


Robert Brodo

About The Author

Robert Brodo is co-founder of Advantexe. He has more than 20 years of training and business simulation experience.