The best offense is a good defense. This adage applies not only in sports, but also in the world of business.
A good defense in sports allows the team to spend more time on offense than on defense. A good defense in business allows the company to focus on growth and advancing its mission by having confidence that the business can react to its opponents.
Each day, business owners and managers take the field of play along with their teams. Their opponents are the external environment of their business. External factors that impact business include the economy, customers, culture, technology advancement, industry changes, and stakeholders.
The plays they choose to run are their systems and processes that they operate their businesses on. If they choose the right plays, they outsmart their opponents and win the day. Choose the wrong plays and they lose yardage. Pick the wrong plays more than the right ones and the day, and the game, is lost.
As the CEO of Construct-Ed, Inc. as well as being the president of several other construction related firms, I lead my teams onto the playing field each day. I call in plays from the sidelines with the hopes of outsmarting the opponent and advancing the chains. Occasionally, I even get the opportunity to jump in and run a few plays myself.
How do we outsmart our opponents? How do we increase our confidence that we are calling the right plays? After all, the future of our businesses is based on our ability to call the right plays. No pressure.
Study and Understand Your Opponent
Begin by studying your opponent. Coaches watch game films. They study their opponents’ moves and learn their ways of operating. Learn about the external environment of your business. Study your industry. Monitor advancements in technology. Know your employees. Get your hands dirty with information.
Build the Next Level of Leadership
Build the leaders below you. Coaches do not call plays into the entire team. They call plays into their captain. The captain is the player in field who is most skilled in leading and casting a vision. Captains get their teams fired up. They align every player’s vision and focus them on executing the plays and create synergy on the playing field.
Organize for Cover and Support
A strong organizational structure offers cover and support for all team members. Mistakes will happen. Team members will be out of position. A runner will squirt through. Positioning players on the team so that they can cover for the inevitable mistake will ensure that the mistakes do not allow the opponent to advance down the field against you. Allow team members to step up to make the plays. Create an environment of support.
Train Your Systems and Processes
Your systems and processes are your team’s plays. Sports teams drill constantly so that they execute their plays almost instinctively. The military drills its forces so that each member executes instinctively on the battle field. Businesses must train their systems and processes so that their team members can execute the systems and processes flawlessly when an opponent attempts to make an end run.
Training resources such as Construct-Ed (www.construct-ed.com) can help train your teams for maximum performance.
Provide Feedback and Coaching
All players are human, regardless of skill level, they make mistakes. Errors will happen. As leaders, we must provide feedback on performance. Coaching is required in order to bring our players back and re-focus them on the vision.
When employees appear to be missing plays or continually drop passes, bring them aside. Get to know them. Ask them to recommit to the vision and mission, but be open to hear their feedback as to what may be holding them back.
Be ready to provide coaching to realign team members to the company goals.
Each and every day, leaders and managers are bombarded by demands in the external environment. The environment in which business is operated is becoming more dynamic and more chaotic every day. At certain times our environment may even appear to be hostile towards our businesses.
Focus on creating a strong defense for your business. Defend the core of your business by creating great systems and processes in order to react to the opponent’s moves. Train your systems and processes so that your team can execute when the opponent is on the attack. Organize your team for maximum cover and support.
By creating a strong defense, the company can better combat the opponent’s advances. The faster the company can repel the attack, the faster the company can transition to a counterattack and take advantage of the opponent’s weaknesses. A strong defense can lead to a great offense.