Flying in the Red Zone — Gaining and Sustaining Competitive Advantage in Volatile Times

Leaders in uncertain times can have no patience for waiting for a return to “normalcy.” This is not the moment to be risk averse. You must be an agent of change or you’ll soon find yourself and your organization in a permanent state of “dormancy.”

Why? Because the new “normal” is that the world is volatile, turbulent and perpetually uncertain.

Achieving success today in a high-consequence, highly uncertain, and rapidly-changing world requires that leaders be adept in living and acting out of their comfort zones. In this environment, impatience is a virtue. And, while there are no guarantees the search for unique opportunities must be constant and never-ending. The organization must keep a keen eye for incremental change, but leadership must look for exponential opportunities.

I was recently one of the lead partners in two ownership groups who paid the highest amount for two sports franchises – the storied Los Angeles Dodgers along with Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim group and The NBA’s The Golden State Warriors with Joe Lacob. This is what I call “flying in the red zone.” Great risk, but the reward horizon is enormous. What you focus on grows so focus on success.

I have gained and sustained far more competitive advantage than I’ve relinquished with this strategy. The journey with these assets is long, at its heart arduous, and always uncertain. Certainty is an illusion. These franchises are just at the beginning of their game.

Through my four decades of business experience across highly diverse industries, I’ve organized certain F.A.C.T.S. that are crucial to my leading and succeeding in uncertain times. They are:

F – Fear

– Fear can catalyze or paralyze you. Think of fear as F.E.A.R – False Evidence Appearing Real. Most of the consequences we fear most never happen but are the result of old negative experiences that circulate in our brains as back stories than can subvert our future success. Don’t let them live rent free in your head – evict them! In fact, a willingness to make fear an ally, recognizing that you are experiencing something new and exciting that has risk, may be the deciding factor for your success.

A – Agent of Change

– Organizations attempting to defend their incumbency by playing it safe and sticking to the status quo will quickly find themselves skunked! Seize change, drive change, but remember everyone faces challenges and confronts failures. In fact, if you’re not having any failures you’re probably not reaching far enough testing how really good you are.

C – Communication

– In volatile times it’s most important to leverage all digital technologies to tell your story, be a great listener to empathetically hear what other folks, collaborators and competitors, are saying, and with great speed and transparency address issues that may derail your success. This will build your all important credibility and trust.

T – Team

– Overcoming hurdles is a team effort. True leadership power lies in empowering others. Collaboration is the password for today’s success.

S – Surrender

– Never surrender. It’s not an option. It’s only over when you lay down and don’t get up.

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