An enterprise mindset is defined as the ability to balance the goals of your business unit along with the broader interests of the enterprise. Naturally, to be considered an enterprise leader one must hold an enterprise mindset.
An enterprise leader does not think nor operate in silos. In alignment with their ambitions for collective progress, these leaders demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the organization and how the various components of the firm all contribute and operate together. As well, these leaders devote their time to help develop the right capabilities for the firm and share their resources and knowledge across the business.
The 3 traits that I believe define an enterprise leader are listed below.
A Sense of Purpose
An enterprise leader has a deep sense of purpose. They are passionate about their careers and the companies they serve. These leaders truly desire to enable and realize transformational change within their organizations and the communities in which it serves.
Most importantly, these leaders view their purpose differently. Enterprise leaders understand the impact of their actions on people’s lives. For example, they consider their role as the enabler of job growth for a community and nation versus a means for expense management.
Additionally, enterprise leaders have a sense of belonging and acceptance with their organization. They accept the company culture and build time within their strategies to help preserve, expand and improve organizational culture. They lead by example and help others understand the importance of purpose.
Daring to Disagree
Enterprise leaders use a structured, diplomatic and professional approach fully equipped with facts and not dogmatism to challenge conventional wisdom. They are driven by an altruistic, noble and purposeful intent and are not fearful to challenge conventional wisdom for the greater good of the firm.
Early in my career through the use of research, statistics, and actual client feedback I respectfully disagreed with a politically charged business decision my employer at the time had made. My data and challenge were accepted, and the decision was reversed. Shortly after the decision was reversed market conditions and industry growth forecasts drastically changed. The unexpected and negative change in conditions and forecasts proved that by not moving forward with the original decision the firm avoided a significant financial loss and negative impact on the client experience.
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Margaret Heffernan in one of her brilliant TED talks discusses a more severe example highlighting the importance of challenging conventional wisdom.
“Alice Stewart, a female scientist at Oxford University in the 1950’s, was a very talented scientist who dared to disagree. She was branded as odd and a troublemaker. Alice empirically proved the correlation between children born with cancer and their mothers who had been x-rayed while pregnant with the same children. Her research and studies were immediately rejected by the medical community at Oxford and beyond. It took 25, a lot of children dying and purpose driven courage from Alice to have her findings finally accepted. Her findings and recommendations were accepted worldwide, and the use of medical x-rays during pregnancy and early childhood were stopped.”
What would have happened if Alice simply remained quiet or was scared to disagree?
Develop and improve
An enterprise leader constantly seeks opportunities to help develop and improve themselves and the enterprise which they serve. This leader is not scared of the unknown. In fact, they attract and find new, difficult yet thought provoking and enlightening ways to increase the strength and competitiveness of the enterprise. They are lifelong learners who proactively stay ahead of their competition by being addicted to knowledge and progress. They are innovators who thrive on disrupting their industry and exploiting competitor idleness.
An example of a collaborative developmental exercise is the creation of formal, internal peer-to-peer support networks. Open and safe forums where enterprise leaders can discuss key challenges with others as well learn and develop together.
The siloed leader’s mindset has expired.
Developing enterprise minded leaders is crucial for organizational success.