If your business can’t touch its toes, you might as well stay on the bench


In today’s business arena there are so many variables that play into running a successful organization. First, you must have a product or service. It must be useful, provide value (at a cost people are willing to pay), and be scalable to meet the demands of the market. Next, you need to understand the consumers, cultural nuances, and business trends. Lastly, and most importantly, you must be able to execute a proper strategy. However, a company can achieve all of those success factors, but still ultimately fail. Why? Because it’s not only about the product or service, how well it’s positioned, its value, and the amazing business plan behind it. It’s about its ability to touch its toes – in other words exercise and demonstrate flexibility.

Companies are like people. They exhibit behavioral characteristics. Those characteristics are often the sum total of the senior leadership team. These are the people who execute the visions and strategy of the company through their decision-making style and interactions with employees. These leaders often communicate the business strategy like it was some sort of MBA playbook for scoring corporate touchdowns. So much time and energy went into creating these plans, they feel compelled to run the script and ignore input from their middle management teams, general employee base, and most importantly, customers.

Many of us are fans of American football or are at least familiar with it. We know NFL coaches have a playbook. They clutch it in-hand as if it was a top secret document. Coaches are like senior leaders executing a business strategy. However, many leaders could learn from NFL coaches, because they exercise flexibility. They permit the quarterback to change plays based on the conditions of the game. Business is dynamic just like football. There is no perfect strategy and it’s always changing, but the winning team knows how and when to be flexible to score the most points. They have their ears and eyes open, read the field, listen to input and change it up as needed without compromising their ultimate goal – to win.

If the overall personality profile of your leadership team is overly concerned with details and process, airs on the side of caution, and routinely exhibits a high degree of confidence in their decisions, it’s worth stopping to take a “flexibility check” to see if it can touch its toes – assess, develop, and win!