January 30 by Eric Dreshfield
How do you react when you receive a cold email from a company trying to sell you a product or service? Are you the type to simply read the subject line and then hit delete? Or are you the type who opens the email, reads it carefully, spotting all the typos and grammatical errors, then responds with a very thoughtful response that educates the sender on the issues you discovered, the potential outcomes those errors may cause, then tactfully wishing them success while declining a meeting from them? If you are the latter, you are well on your way to becoming a leader.
Many people say that there are born leaders, and while some individuals do exhibit leadership qualities starting at an early age, I would argue that no one is a born leader. We all come into the world in much the same manner – scared and naked – very much in need of help from those raising us, and in many cases, also in need of help from medical professionals with years of specialized training. Can someone who needs that much help really be a born leader? Perhaps it’s possible that some people are born with certain personality traits that allow them to excel in leadership roles easier than others. And perhaps, anyone can become a great leader, with adequate mentorship and training. Regardless, there are a few things anyone wanting to take a leadership role should learn to do, and do very well, as a matter of their daily routine.
Don’t confuse being self-aware with being self-obsessed. Self-obsessed, simply put, means it’s all about you, all the time. Being self-aware means you know your own strengths, and more importantly, you know your own weaknesses. It means you understand what impact you have on others, what you care about and the direction your moral compass points. Being self-aware means you understand what truly motivates you, and what drives you to excel in what you do. It defines who you are, and what people can expect of you.
Leaders have mastered the art of listening. They listen with the intent of understanding. Great leaders listen carefully, and do not interrupt the speaker. They have an open mind and set aside any pre-conceived notions, so they can understand the message being delivered. True leaders never react, they take a moment to digest what they heard, then confirm their understanding of that. Only then do leaders respond with thoughtful, unbiased insights.
Take Risks and Be Accountable
A leader isn’t simply someone who is empowered to make decisions. Leaders are those willing to evaluate options, calculate the risks and rewards associated with the options. A leader is ultimately the person who makes the decision and bears the risk of failure. They hold themselves accountable when things go bad, and they share the success with those who helped make it happen.
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
Understanding Corporate Leadership
We just discussed how an individual can become a leader. What about companies? How can they stand out and become a leader in their industry? Common leadership metrics for a company in any industry include market share and growth. These are difficult metrics to determine at times though, because some companies are privately held, while other operations are divisions of larger parent companies. In such cases, organizations may not share details on the size of their customer base, annual sales, profitability, or other important measures. While most companies will gladly provide references to other satisfied customers, as an organization looking to do business with a specific company, you want to learn as much as possible about your potential vendor. That’s why third-party research should also play an important role in decision making.
Unbiased and Actionable Insights
The role of the industry analyst is crucial, and as such, the work of analysts from organizations like Gartner, Forrester and IDC should be an important resource for companies looking to do business with other companies. Analyst organizations such as these devote their time and energy into assessing companies and the products they sell, to gain understanding of the value presented to their customers. This benefits the end customer, by producing independent, objective insights that are unbiased and actionable.
When an analyst lists a company as a leader, they are giving an expert opinion based on detailed research using research methodologies that enable them to net out volumes of data and conversations with vendors and customers. The research results are presented in a way that clients can make the best business decisions possible for their unique situation. Named industry leaders may not be the biggest companies in the industry, and they may not be those companies with the longest tenure either. They are the companies with the best products, designed to accomplish well-defined goals, supported by the best implementation and service teams, to provide clients with the absolute best overall experience as a customer of that company.
Therefore, it’s a big deal when analysts name a company a leader. It should carry a lot of weight when prospects are evaluating different vendors for business applications.
Apttus is a Leader
Apttus is extremely proud to have been named a leader in key spaces that make up Quote-to-Cash and the Middle Office space. For instance, not just once, but twice Apttus has been positioned as a leader in Configure Price Quote (CPQ) by Gartner, and received leadership recognition from Forrester as well as from IDC. Similarly, Apttus has twice been named a leader in Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) by Forrester. Finally, IDC has named Apttus a leader in B2B Digital Commerce.