x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Strong focus needed for efficient navigation

The Life: Leaders must know how to navigate and steer their companies through stormy seas, always heading in the right direction.

Imagine you are sitting in the middle of a wide open sea in a vessel of your choosing and you can go anywhere you want, in any direction. Everywhere you look you see endless possibilities on the blue sea. The only problem is that it's the shore you want to reach.

How do you get there, when in every direction you look all you can see is the sea and what seem to be endless options?

This is what businesses in fast-growing markets are faced with every day. Everywhere they look, they see numerous opportunities but they need to stay focused on where they want to go.

In the nautical world, the role of the skipper and helmsman is to chart the course and then steer the vessel to reach its destination. There may not be a better illustration for a leader - for leaders are navigators.

It is the leader who navigates the businesses through the vastness and gives direction to the employees so they can reach the destination quickly and safely. Leaders have to have focused minds with steady and safe hands.

Navigation has always been a vital skill for leaders, but in today's world of overload - too much information, too many opportunities - the need is heightened for you to be the navigator for your company. You have to filter through all of the overload (good and bad), decipher it and give your team the right direction. Safe navigation means keeping the business on course and away from dangers.

You have to make sense of a lot of information and opportunities. The emerging markets are like the sand in the desert. The movement of desert sand is intriguing and complicated, as it never sits still. It is constantly moving in multiple directions. Likewise leading here is never settled and still. Therefore it is essential that you can navigate through these ambiguous and constantly changing markets.

It is like being the GPS of your company. GPS deciphers through images and data from multiple satellites, recognises the position, and converts it to a user-friendly form. Business leaders need to be doing this for their companies. You need to navigate through the ambiguity of the open sea of business and give your employees direction in a user-friendly form.

Satellite navigation is good only if there are no delays in the data recognition and the receiver map is up to date. I call the GPS in my car "Rhonda" coming from the phrase: "Help me, Rhonda." But lately she has not been much help in navigating me through the roads of UAE because the roads are constantly changing. They change from one day to the next, so Rhonda (the GPS) is now out of date. If you are not up to date on your data and understanding, you will navigate your company down the wrong road and possibly on to a dead-end street.

From time to time, I have to take my car to the dealer so they will update my GPS system. When they do this, Rhonda can once again navigate me through the ever-changing roads.

You need to find sources to update your information flow so you can calculate the right direction for your company.

To be able to navigate, business leaders need to see the big picture and be able to think conceptually, combining all of the details and ideas into a strategy to take their business to a higher level. It is an extraordinary capacity to manoeuvre through ambiguity in the fast-paced, always-on business environment.


Tommy Weir is an authority on fast-growth and emerging-market leadership, an adviser and the author of The CEO Shift. He is the founder of the Emerging Markets Leadership Center