Running a business successfully is one thing. Running it for exporting is another. Exporting represents an enormous opportunity but for many businesses it also represents a big leap forward.
Making this leap requires bold, confident leadership, but also a high degree of self-knowledge. The successful business leader in export can be neither under- nor over-confident. Success means getting it right and successful leadership is a consummate balancing act.
Mike Pollitt, owner of True Progress Business Coaching, is well aware of the kinds of challenges business leaders can face when it comes to exporting. “It’s about stepping outside your comfort zone in a very real sense”, he explains. “Suddenly you can find that the context in which you’re operating has changed and you don’t know all the rules”.
A 2014 report from the CIPD indicates that while the capability to lead is there, the ability to actually do so is not always realised. Sometimes this is down to companies not having the capacity for improved leadership because of structural shortcomings or deficiencies. The global market brings with it external pressures on leadership as competition narrows profit margins at the same time that the market itself offers opportunities.
“The CIPD report suggests that the ‘heroic’ model of leadership, out front and taking all the individual decisions, is not going to be the best way for a company to survive the future challenges of expanding into exports”, Mike explains. “Rather, the emphasis should be on collaborative working and workforce diversity”.
Leadership is only as successful as the context in which it works. “There has to be a willingness to embrace new ways of thinking”, Mike explains. “This includes being prepared to learn from employees and others, and not simply lead from the front”.
This willingness to learn is a crucial factor in improving leadership. A study by the Stanford Business School found that many US CEOs don’t have coaching or leadership development, and are in fact resistant to this kind of development.
“Being open to new ideas and ways of doing things, be it through coaching or learning, or both, is a vital quality for business leaders if they want to keep adapting to the changing, and changeable, circumstances of global trade”, Mike concludes.
Export Experts Magazine would like to thank Mike Pollitt for his contribution to this article. If you require any guidance on ‘taking a leap forward‘, please call True Progress on 01625 525100 or visit their website.