What makes a great leader? There are definitely key ingredients that a great leader exemplifies in business.
There are also different adjectives you can use to describe a good leader. Some include: Decisive, intelligent, driven, focused, and so on. However, a good leader has to be more than someone who says the right things. The best leaders are ones who not only identify problems but also motivate their team to solve them.
Some of the best and most well-known brands in the world have had down periods. Apple, without Steve Jobs, wasn’t doing so well. They had lost market share to IBM, missed financial earning markers, and produced multiple product flops. The company was in turmoil and went through multiple leadership transitions. Ultimately, Jobs return to the company led to a unprecedented turnaround. He led the release of the tremendously popular iMac and also was very involved in the design of the iPhone and iPad. The end result being that Apple soared to incredible heights of profitability and the brand became synonymous with innovation and clean design. It is now one of the most well-known brands in the world.
Another noteworthy brand is Bucherer, who was once The Watch Gallery, and who has the pleasure of introducing luxury Swiss retailer Bucherer to the UK. Bucherer has been around for more than 100 years and was best known for selling a variety of different watches to interested buyers. Bucherer essentially was known for their stores where they sold other people’s watches but not their own. They rebranded themselves as a luxury watchmaker making their own top of the line products. They’re already known for their long history and craftsmanship so these traits were leveraged to create their new high-end image. This led to increased sales and an expanded retail presence for their luxury brand.
And how about the story of Kevin Systrom and his app, Burbn? Maybe that app name is not familiar to you but the current name will be: Instagram. Yes, Instagram started out as Burbn, a “check-in” type social app that aimed to compete with Foursquare. The problem was that it was not catching on and financial investors were worried. Systrom, along with co-founder Mike Krieger took the dangerous step of stopping and stepping back, acknowledging that what they had was not good, and they took the bold leadership initiative to start over. The programming took just over 8 weeks and the name “Instagram” was coined from derivatives of the words “instant” and “telegram”. The app skyrocketed in popularity and use, catching the eye of Facebook who, just 2 short years later, bought the app for $1 billion!
So what makes a good leader when a brand needs to be reimagined and repositioned in the market?
Many businesses fail because they are unwilling or unable to change and adapt. This has been an issue for many businesses. Even if they are losing customers and money, some businesses won’t make changes for fear of losing customers they have left. You’ve likely seen this before with businesses that seem old-fashioned, out of touch, or with an older and ever-shrinking customer base. As a leader, you have to be able to recognize when things are not working, what action needs to be taken, and effectively implement the new action plans.
Realizing there is a problem is step one. The next (and harder) step is fixing it. Companies lose their market position for a lot of different reasons. This can be from product flaws, new ideas that didn’t work out, bad investments, misreading trend shifts, or social changes. As a good leader, you have to be able to anticipate these issues, isolate them, and solve the problems they created. Careful planning, fluid ability to adapt, and a well-defined end-goal enable a business to shift, adapt, and innovate as needed to succeed. This requires leadership to define a goal but not to force narrow rules for implementation.
Rebranding a company requires drastic action in many cases. Years of mismanagement can leave a lot of deadwood for a leader to deal with. Entire product lines may have to be redesigned, departments combined, or stores closed. These changes are necessary to increase profits, rebuild consumer awareness, and remove non-productive business segments. Not all leaders are brave enough to make these needed, hard changes. A good leader will do what is needed in a respectful way with lots of internal buy-in, instead of letting a business waste away.
When rebranding or rebuilding a company you need to know who your customers are. If you've lost your old customer segment, are they recoverable? If not, who should your new customer base be? Depending on the timeframe your working with the old lost customers may be recoverable. Many customers will happily return to a business that has regained their high standards and reputation for quality. However, in some cases, that market won’t exist anymore. In situations such as that a new brand image and reaching out to a new customer base is a requirement.
In the end, the ingredients that make a great leader are not so much a specific personality style, but a skill set to identify the future and help navigate a team of people forward to reach the end goal. How’s your leadership accomplishing this task in your business today?