Frances* keynote address at the CIO conference was a big hit. The audience could all relate to her experience of IT systems being considered too late in mergers, acquisitions or reorganisations. She had a depth of understanding on the topic and recommendations for success that had come from gathering market intelligence on the topic. She was a demonstration to them of the strategic value that CIOs can provide.
A few months earlier she had turned a problem into an opportunity. She was the CIO for a mid-sized company which had neglected to involve her IT department at an early stage of a proposed acquisition. The result was that the systems did not integrate and both organisations were unhappy. Spurred on by her passion to find a better solution, she interviewed people in the market to see what she could learn from their war stories, mistakes and successes with integrating disparate systems.
She saw the opportunity to turn her findings into a white paper followed by personal briefings for those who shared her frustration and who were hungry for a best practice template. She put her own recommendations into practice and became known as the go-to person on the topic. She subsequently seized the opportunity to leverage her paper with a keynote address at the CIO conference.
Her widening network of supporters did a great job of advocating for her as a leader who could shake things up. A job offer resulted and in the process, she transitioned from IT to general management with a go-ahead company. She was also offered other opportunities to pursue her passion for attracting more girls and women into IT. She is still creating opportunities for herself and others around her.
The point here is that game-changing leaders like Frances have an opportunity mindset. They create and seek out opportunities to forward their objectives. Their opportunity mindset is like that of an entrepreneur, even though they are not running start-ups. They have a clarity of purpose that enables them to create and recognise opportunities. Frances turned the initial problem into an opportunity which led to a series of further opportunities. It’s like when you buy a red car; suddenly you notice that red cars are everywhere on the road.
This style of leadership is outlined in the book, The New Entrepreneurial Leader based on research by the authors from Babson College. They propose that, “Entrepreneurial leaders refuse to cynically or lethargically resign themselves to the problems of the world. Rather through a combination of self-reflection, analysis, resourcefulness, and creative thinking and action, they find ways to inspire and lead others to tackle seemingly intractable problems.” They found that entrepreneurial leaders shape opportunities within the context of who they are, what they know, and who they know.
What opportunities could you create to change the game?
Best regards, Brian
*Name changed to protect the innocent
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