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Challenge the Ordinary

by Dr. Linda Henman

Today’s global economy leaves little room for error. It does not allow for mediocrity; the rules and players have changed; and “ordinary” simply won’t work anymore. If you don’t have the best products and services and the top people delivering them, your competitors will, and they will take their excellence all over the world.

Only those leaders who abandon conventional mindsets, challenge their own assumptions, and kill their sacred cows can hope to survive and thrive in volatile global financial systems that continue to morph just as we start to understand them. These successful leaders will need to learn to live in harmony with complexity, speed, instability, and ambiguity—to go beyond creating a competitive advantage to establishing an exceptional one.The economic clarion will call leaders to create a systematic approach that further distinguishes their companies from all others, both now and in the future.

Increasingly, organizations will depend on cutting-edge solutions to never-before-seen problems and clever ideas to relieve those recurring headaches that have always plagued them. Research indicates that traditionally a handful of star performers have created the vast majority of valuable ideas for their organizations. These top thinkers and performers will also define the talent leaders will need moving forward.

These stars don’t shine independently, however. They are not free agents; rather, these highly talented, extraordinary thinkers need the structure of an organization and effective leadership to do their best work. But they also need new leadership strategies.

Leaders who aspire to lead exceptional organizations must set the right tone, make effective decisions, and establish credibility—all daunting tasks. But as companies expand and grow, the skills that led to a leader’s success often won’t sustain further development in a more complex, higher-stakes environment. Few resources exist to help them, however.

Leaders frequently flounder in their attempts to create a competitive strategy, work with their board, and keep talent in their doors, all the while endeavoring to navigate the turbulent waters of leadership. They need history lessons to explain what has worked in the past, a compass to guide their journeys, and a crystal ball to predict their futures.

Avoiding the pitfalls is a start, identifying a clear path for organizational success the next step. The two work in tandem, one the voice; the other the echo.

Challenge the OrdinaryWhy Revolutionary Companies Abandon conventional Mindsets, Question Long-Help Assumptions, and Kill Their Sacred Cows provides an amalgamation of what I observed—and in many cases, helped create—in Fortune 500 companies, privately-held firms, family-owned businesses, and military organizations. This book also introduces new models for understanding exceptional leadership, stellar organization, and the stars themselves. Leaders will use this book as a guide to what they must do to direct the strategy, make more effective decisions about driving the business, and improve performance as only an exceptional leader can.

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