So much has been written about competitive advantage over many years in all the business books and by so many gurus.
When you read from the likes of the brilliant Michael Porter, Tom Peters, Peter Senge, Gary Hamel and others, there is such an amount of opinion and data that can really add to your thinking and your assessment of your own business.
In recent times I have seen a shift in thinking coming out of the likes of Harvard and other business schools about competitive advantage, which I find very revealing.
In a world where anything – product or service – can be imitated so much faster than previous, the gurus really believe that the advantage needs to shift away from those areas.
More and more they are coming to the conclusion that the competitive advantage is being achieved by those organisations who undertake something very simple indeed!
What, you may ask, is that? Very simply it is for those organisations whose management teams have the ability to dialogue openly and freely about their progress, and then make decisions about where they are going. Another important element to that is they have those dialogues very frequently.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, it is certainly simple, but not always easy!
Why do I say it is not easy? Many management teams have dialogue – but not necessarily open and honest dialogue. The politics come into play, the protecting our own silos, the defending of previously help opinions, and I could go on and on.
Fundamentally what is at the basis of this inability to have open and honest dialogue is a lack of trust!
Trust that I can be open and honest. Trust that I can ask for help without being seen as weak or insecure. Trust that I can admit my mistakes and got something wrong. Trust that my openness will not leave me prone to being stabbed in the back. Trust that I can admit I don’t know all the answers.
A team that has a high level of trust is well positioned to have those open and frequent dialogues. Those lacking trust need to find ways of building trust – otherwise they have no chance!
Trust starts with the leader, but is the responsibility of everyone.
How do you start building trust? Again, it is simple but not easy. It does, start, however, with being brave to initiate open and honest conversations.
I will talk more about that next week.
But, you could start today – have a discussion about trust with one of your team today! Go on, be brave!
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