Leadership 400x265Shouldn’t that be seven, habits and people?  Er, different book.

Ahh globalisation, the watch word for businesses for so long and now challenged as relevant in a world keen to close it’s borders.  When we first penned this article not so long ago, it was essential that leaders understand their role and capabilities within this global view and remain adaptive to the changing marketplace and recognise the commercial value inherent in that change.  Is that that still true?

Yes it is.

You can no longer ignore the potential gain (or loss!) to be derived from a single tweet any less than the potential loss from an incoherent strategic vision.

This is forcing leaders to step forward into the limelight, and those that are commercially thriving under this scrutiny have done so by introducing a transparency to their interactions with the world.

This transparency is essential because they depend upon people they will never meet, suppliers or partners in different businesses and they will have an increasing reliance on their peer network, both within their existing business and their competitors.

In their book, The Elastic Enterprise, Nick Vitalari & Haydn Shaughnessy


highlight six capabilities that these successful leaders exhibit:

  • Invention
  • Re-framing
  • Attraction & Orchestration
  • Influence
  • Drawing the Line
  • De-Risking

What we’ve found fascinating is how tightly their research has overlapped with our understanding of entrepreneurship, and what makes entrepreneurs so commercially astute.  Increasingly we are being asked to identify people with entrepreneurial flair, to lead large businesses to success – hence the growing popularity of the term intrepreneur.

A brilliant demonstration of why the intreprenurial spirit is key to success in modern business has recently been shared by Miranda Birch, a previous guest blogger with us and someone we highly recommend you check out here.

We’ve defined a number of commercial capabilities that are present in the top performing managers, leaders and entrepreneurs, irrespective of geography and business type.  These commercial capabilities, rolled into one and known to us as Commercial Brilliance are a granular understanding of the behaviours and characteristics of an individual who is nothing short of a commercial genius.

Vitalari and Shaughnessy’s research is a great starting point to understanding these brilliance behaviours and characteristics – so we’ve summarised their findings for you below.

Totem Gummi Bears

Invention – All of the leaders they studied were quite capable of generating fresh and innovative ideas.  Leaders need to be comfortable tinkering with systems and knowing something new can come of it. They have to be driven by novelty.

Re-framing – Or changing your perspective is a critical capability in our emerging leaders.  They have the ability re-interpret the vision, mission and values of an organisation – and most importantly, engage all of those around them with that new interpretation.

Attraction & Orchestration – As a leader in an evolving organisation, they have to attract and coordinate a remarkable number of business elements.  But the leader needs to do this very much as a conductor coordinates his orchestra, with passion, flair and complete mastery.

Influence  – Leaders need to master the organisations internal and external information architecture, using it to promote the their wider vision whilst including everyone from the little guy, to the hugely influential collectives that sweep through social media platforms.  That means cultivating a habit of appearing both wise and flexible, being vocal but attentive.

Drawing the Lines – The commercial capabilities of these leaders require them to push the boundaries, product innovation, market placement and team performance to name but three.  But in pushing those boundaries they will need to draw the line between consultation and instruction.

Key stakeholders will always want to have their opinions heard, but also need to be lead.

De-Risking – The new global economy requires a new approach to risk, it’s become a hyper-competitive environment, with threats and opportunities in the most unlikely of places.  Leaders are demonstrating this with radical sideways moves into markets where they have no core competency.

Leaders must now possess the skill of developing and maintaining a portfolio of strategic options. The strategic options portfolio is a constant search for new options, new alternatives, and new markets.

Watching the world and seeing new opportunities is now a critical capability for our leaders.