The Differential Leader

by Sandy Nelson on July 19, 2012

In the modern candy-store economy, potential and possibility are infinite. In this world, it is easy for day-to-day distractions to lure leaders toward overindulgence in the plate of plentiful possibility. As focus becomes dispersed, performance slides. Once thriving ventures suddenly find themselves playing catch up to escape becoming also-rans in the game.

For the focused leader and her team, the sky is the limit, assuming she and they have the discipline to remain focused, are open to learning, adapting and innovating ahead of the competition, and can summon the courage to routinely decline off-target temptations—no matter how appealing.

Within the complexities of competition, it is easy to find oneself mired in the noise of the urgent—to such a degree that What Matters is subjugated to the immediate. When this happens over time, the optimal is overtaken by the minimally achievable.

Today, conventional models and practices of leadership, collaboration, business and organizational architectures no longer suffice. Yet, in the light of constantly overflowing plates and nearly incessant overwhelm, many leaders gravitate toward incremental fixes that, as often as not, compound the challenge rather than diminish it.

Those who truly seek and are fully committed to winning in the Creative Economy, must continuously focus on and invest in building sustainable competitive differentiation by optimizing the intangible drivers of revenue generation and value appreciation—talent, focus, culture, differentiating capabilities, execution and customer experience. Getting there requires courage, discipline and audacity, not to mention ample investment.

The Differential Leader routinely steps outside day-to-day pressures to read the world, reduce complexity to essence, see what’s there and missing, and assess possibility in terms of alignment with what matters. She understands that pervasive incrementalism and fear-based resistance to boldness are certain tickets to accelerating decline. Ruthless in denying distraction, focused with laser-like acuity on what matters and never hesitating to invest on the intangible side of the equation, Differential Leaders drive forward with respect and gratitude but little sentimentality for the past.

Think about it. Which distractions can you decline today? Who can you inspire? What bold steps can you declare, align talent around, focus and mobilize?

Is there fear that restrains you? What cost are you paying for hesitation?

Step up. Go for it. Leave timidity behind!

This is your life. This is your time, your shot at winning. Why leave anything on the table?


Sandy Nelson

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: