Finding Opportunities When There are None to Find

How does one steer a person to their potential and then guide them to see a problem as an opportunity?

It could be said that personal optimism and pessimism are the defining difference, or it’s a result of employment versus ownership role, or it’s the winning mindset or its absence which is crucial – but undoubtedly, each of these will play a part. Most likely though, it is leadership that is missing – not leadership as in the “steering the firm in the right direction” leadership, but leadership as in steering the person to their potential.

The Diamond Cutter by Roach and McNally provides guidance on how to build oneself into a truly authentic leader. One who will seek to manage himself so that those around him feel his constancy, generosity and personal interest and so they grow to trust him and through his skills transfer will enable him to trust them. A key tactic in Roach and McNally’s book is to symbolically take on another person’s persona and attempt to see every activity through their eyes and emotions.

It will require quite an effort to take on the eyes, ears, goals, family commitments, interests, needs and so on of another but when this effort is made with intention and ongoing commitment then the relationship between the individuals changes. There will be a reduction in space between each other and it will become almost impossible to act in any way other than encourage the individual to greater potential.

To achieve potential requires development of resilience which is the ability to bounce back from problems. Therefore, problems are integral to personal success and the way the problems are handled influences the individuals approach for the future. When the mind becomes open as it is directed to learn from a problem or seek a solution from a mistake, the effect is not only higher productivity but also a more creative and energising experience for all involved. When seeking solutions becomes the norm, finding opportunities in the wilderness is no longer difficult. How does this help a firm to find opportunities where no opportunities exist?

It shows that there is never a situation when there is only a problem or an opportunity. There is always both. It just depends on which side you look. Granted the opportunities may be outside the resources of the individual or firm, but even here an opportunity arises. A case in point – a small business in Perth had a rate of workers’ compensation insurance which was higher than acceptable to the CEO – it was 8% of total wages and so was a drain on cashflow and profits and not adding value to the client.

The opportunity was to reduce the cost by increasing safety procedures and controls. The result was a reduction in expenditure to 2% of wages but the gain was not limited to direct cost reduction. The better safety resulted in lower lost time, improved staff morale and a better client experience – all of which had a positive impact on profits so the gain was considerably more than the reduction in the cost.

Instill a culture of trust and openness in your firm and then challenge each individual to view all things from the other side if you want to develop a firm which can find opportunities where others find none. The result may surprise you.

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