Monday, September 10, 2012

Leadership Coaching: Learn From The External Environment Of Your Business



Leadership Coaching: Learn From The External Environment Of Your Business

No Organization Is An Island
Leaders need to help people identify patterns and see choices in the internal current reality, that's why they themselves have a responsibility to raise their awareness and understanding of the presently unknown or unseen patterns in the external environment. This external perspective takes two distinct forms. First, finding out how the organization is perceived from the outside. Customers, suppliers, competitors can provide insights which are missed in a purely internal analysis. Second, helping organizations predict and prepare for new opportunities and threats. Interaction with people outside the organization creates more opportunities for discovery, more options, and more choices for ways forward.
One of the major challenges facing managers is how to avoid becoming 'bogged down' in the internal issues of their organization. Retaining or developing a sufficient perspective on the external environment is essential in order to make sense of the internal issues. The saying 'no man is an island' applies to organizations as well as individuals. The survival and growth of an organization are as dependent on its relationship with the external environment as they are on the people, processes and structures which represent it internally.
Information From Customers, Suppliers And Competitors
The nature of this external perspective should be multi-faceted. An organization needs regular, direct feedback from its customers and suppliers; it needs ongoing information about competitor activity. Equally, managers need to draw on the diverse and rich experience of life outside work that all the members have, as this can expand the horizons of what is perhaps the most difficult to achieve. Finally they need to develop as clear a view as possible of how the future of their industry and related industries is evolving. All these views or perspectives on the 'outside' can be described as the organization understanding the dynamic nature of the wider 'system' in which it is operating. Just as we encourage people to 'see differently' the internal issues, so we encourage them to consider the external environment and the nature of their organization in relation to it differently. The external environment should be a source of opportunities, challenges and triggers for new ideas and ways of thinking and behaving.
The Organization's Relationship To The Environment
Let's build on the biological analogy of the systemic picture of organizations and management as if an organization is considered as a human body. Let's it see how its relationship to the environment is as important as the nature of internal relationships. For example, the human body is extremely sensitive to its environment, and relatively minor shifts in temperature can have a major impact-a rise in temperature causes sweating, followed by coloring. If the temperature continues to rise, eventually blistering and burning will ensue if the body does not move away or isolate itself. The parallel with organizations in this context is the relationship between an organization and its environment or the wider system-its industry, customers, technology, society etc. How are the antennae working? Are the ears functioning well? How effective is the nervous system at the extremities? Is the nose clear and are the eyes wide open? In our experience most organizations do not use all their faculties, their senses, in relating to their environment, in picking up signals of either threat or opportunity.
By the way, do you want to learn more about leadership in your company? If so, download your FREE ebook here: Guide to Elegant Courage Leadership
Jodi and Mike specialize in executive coaching with individuals and teams. http://lighthouse-leadership.com