ambidextrous 4

Many organizations in our modern times were found losing the ground under their feet while thinking and perceiving their business as happening “as usual.” The power of their competitive advantage gradually slipped away and regrettably for some, they were caught unprepared.

While we all understand that competitive advantage cannot last forever, the sad thing is when good organizations find themselves without alternatives.

Organizations lose competitive advantage because:

(a) Disruptive innovators have come into the game (Professor Clayton Christensen’s Disruptive Innovation)

(b)  New technology has changed the competitive landscape (e-books, e-encyclopedias)

(c)  A saturation of market demand for the value proposition propelled by the firm’s competitive advantage until that time

(d)  A change of the business environment giving birth to new or substituted products or new trends, tastes, and demands

If we can take an audit of the leaders’ actions while they were at the helm steering the business, will we find that they acted rightly? Or shall we find that they did their best what they ought to, but it is it the leader’s fault whatever the circumstances when the ship goes down?

After all when a company goes down, it causes massive financial and social reverberations that bring misfortunes to the people it employed and to society as a whole. In some cases so serious are these that who is responsible must be identified. Apart from the general system someone else in the company should be made accountable irrespective of what he could or could not do. Such are the consequences of a leader’s acceptance of the top job.

But before passing judgment, one should consider for a moment today’s challenges in a leader’s job:

A leader is asked to:

(a)  Meet short-term as well as long-term goals

(b)  Achieve operational efficiency today and adapt for tomorrow, to survive today and compete for tomorrow

(c)  Create for his firm a competitive advantage to enable it to play the game now but at the same time to be striving to replace it with a new one to stay in the game in the future

(d)  Create a firm that deploys resources like a large organization while showing the entrepreneurial spirit of a small, nimble company

Summing up the demands on a leader, we may say that a leader is asked to create an ambidextrous organization that combines multiple capabilities and accommodates gradual change and occasional revolutionary leaps (R.M. Grant in his book Contemporary Strategy Analysis).

No doubt, ambidextrousness is a much sought-after characteristic for leaders to possess whatever the skills it requires, whatever the circumstances in which one is operating.

When considering those questions, we come to understand that a leader’s job is not an easy one and not one that many people can do. It carries tremendous responsibilities for the company, its people and their society, responsibilities that may have their roots in things a leader omitted to do or was not capable of doing.