You Have To Lead

19146668_thbWith the Major League Baseball (MLB) schedule over and post-season games underway, I came across a baseball story that caught my attention.

It was an article written about the Louisville Slugger baseball bat – you can read it here.

According to the article, Hillerich & Bradsby, the 129-year old family business and historically dominant producer of wood baseball bats, has lost the (MLB) market share lead to another manufacturer.

For those of you who don’t follow baseball or have never heard of Louisville Slugger, stick with me because whenever a manufacturer of any product loses market share, there is a leadership lesson to be learned.

A company will lose or gain market share for any number of reasons. Most apparent are product quality, product performance, product cost (price), customer service, customer preference, availability, relationships, branding and a whole host of other reasons. Regardless the reason, or combination of reasons, market share position, always comes back to leadership.

In the article, there’s mention that H&B has tried to adjust to increased competition and changes within the industry. A company spokesman said, “We were forced to push and innovate. We needed to get better.”

It seems they had it pretty good for many years and have reacted instead of strategized to maintain their market share lead. Unfortunately all organizations, family businesses in particular, are vulnerable when the leader doesn’t lead.

My leadership tip this week is to remind you to lead, innovate and get better in everything you do. Here are 3 – things you should be doing:

Lead by getting out in front of your day to day challenges and address the challenges you will have 3, 6, 9, 12 and 24 months out. This takes a commitment to thinking and planning.

Make innovation and continuous improvement a way of life in your organization. This takes commitment, communication and constant positive reinforcement.

Stay close to your customers and listen to what they have to say … then respond. This takes commitment, effort and recognition that you exist for them.

There are many other things you can do … but the most important thing for you to do never think you’ve made it – you have to lead. Provide your organization with the leadership necessary to achieve your vision, your market share and other goals.

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