Competitive Markets Need Courage to Succeed!
What does it mean to have courage when you need to deal with tough competitive market conditions and digital disruption affecting your market share?
A high market share increases profitability and provides a competitive edge for companies.
So, how can you increase market share? Don’t get caught up fighting a price war to grow share; we refer to this insane approach as - profitless growth?
Instead, start with courage. Courage to increase market share in competitive markets means taking a risk as a leader knowing that you may fail, or be judged harshly by others.
I was running a session on value creation with a group of keen young executives when we had a breakthrough, and one of the executives looked up and said, “How old are you?”
He asked what I did before my 30 years in business; I knew my answer would create more questions from the rest of the group. I found the courage to share my story because I wanted them to have the courage to make some tough decisions (around value creation rather than price reductions). I needed courage to share my story knowing that some may judge me differently.
Before going into business 30 years ago, for ten years I served as an NSW Police Officer spending time in the Police Rescue Squad and the Accident Investigation Squad. Questions came thick and fast? The more stories I shared, the more detail they wanted.
Two questions made me stop and think: how I coped with the stress of dealing with so many deaths, and how I coped dealing with people who had no regard for other human beings.
Firstly, I shared a book I read, written in 1946 by Viktor Frankl, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning,’ sharing his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. He describes his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life, and then immersively imagining that outcome. This great book helped me manage the situations I had to deal with, without being consumed by the enormity of the disaster.
In competitive markets managers and executives often fall into catastrophising the state of the market or competitive threat. Catastrophising is an irrational thought believing something will be far worse than it is. Often, giving greater credence to how big the competitive threat is.
Secondly, I shared part of a speech given by President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, “The Man in the Arena,” in 1910 which he delivered on a speaking tour in Europe.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
By sharing the Man in the Arena story, we got quickly back to our discussions and the realisation that it takes courage not to discount price but to focus on value.
It was a great planning session that was helped by my courage to share some very private stuff about my life.
Before you take any action, spend time with your top accounts and continue to understand their business and how you bring value to them every day. Don’t just focus on relationships with their operational managers; their C-Suite must continually know how you help them grow. Building relationships with a chosen few customers will increase your share of wallet for each of these customers.
Innovate to stay relevant
Do you have a culture that will take risks to innovate or are you risk-averse? To innovate by definition means that some things you try will fail. You need to innovate to stay relevant. A great article from Harvard, ‘A Road map for natural capitalism,’ shows that innovation is risky. But when it works, it can have a dramatic impact on the environment, and also on improving profits and competitiveness in tough markets.
The call to courage
If you have not heard in detail the story of the Man in the Arena, Dr Brené Brown and Netflix have put together: The Call to Courage, a great session that applies to your business and personal life. She does a great job of sharing how the story affected her.
If you want to increase market share in competitive markets, focus on your leadership and your ability to take courageous decisions.