Leadership Challenge and Vistage Support

Leadership Challenge and Vistage Support

In this article, we will explore what are the core challenges Business Leaders face and how Vistage can help them in the process.

Key Leadership Challenge

The role of business leadership is to bring out the highest possible {optimum} performance from a group of people {employees} that can be sustained over a long period of time and to produce excellent results year after year.

In short, sustained superior performance from a group of people year after year

From the Business Leader’s perspective, there are three major activity streams that are critical for an Organization’s success.

They are

  1. Managing Today’s Business – Building Products and Services and bringing them to the Customers’ doorstep
  2. Managing Tomorrow’s Business – Based on the Feedback and Learning, Continuously keep improving the Products and Services {Increasing the value and decreasing the Cost}
  3. Managing Future Business – Ensuring the relevance of the Organization in a dynamic and changing market place by developing the required new products and services

Let us explore these 3 activity streams in little more detail.

Activity Stream # 1 – Managing Today’s Business – Building Products and Services and bringing them to the Customerrs’ doorsteps

Here, an Organization brings together the people, finances, raw materials required, the facilities &  infrastructure required, the suppliers and contractors supporting the organization in providing the solutions, with the process knowhow {the core expertise of the organization} and systems. With all of these in place, the Organization produces the products and services and get them to the Customer.

Products and Services have to be churned out in the required quantity, required quality and in the required time. This is the domain of Middle Management.

Activity Stream #2 – Managing Tomorrow’s Business – Based on the feedback and learning, to continuously improve the products and services {to Increase value and decrease cost}


In this activity stream, the focus is on obtainining feed back from various sources including

Based on all these feedback obtained, initiatives are launched to enhance the products and services features – increasing value and decreasing cost continuously.

The focus here is on continuous improvement – to enhance the product features to enhance customer value and to reduce cost. An environment where controlled experimentation takes place. This is partly the domain of middle management and partly the domain of Exectuive Leadership.

Activity Stream # 3 –  Managing Future Business – Ensuring the relevance of the Organization {and its products and services}  in a dynamic and changing market place


To be able to do this requires deeper understanding of the market / social trends, how technology is impacting how the products and services are delivered to the customers.Deep analysis including tools like PESTLE analysis helps the Business Leader to understand the future needs and prepare the organization on time.

The focus here is on understanding the market, social needs & trends, how they are changing due to various reasons, how they are impacting the organization and its products and services. Based on the insight gained, to prepare the organization {workforce} by building the necessary capacity and capabilities and by developing new products and services thus ensuring the relevance of the organization in a dynamic VUCA environment. This is the domain of Executive Leadership.

If we combine these three major activity streams into one, then we have the complete Organizational model, built on the three activity streams of managing today’s, tomorrow’s and future businesses.

There could be many different types of Organizational models. Presented below is one of them, a very generic model. Having a good Organizational model is the foundation on which the whole actions of Leadership and Management {and the employees} is built upon. It helps the Business Leader to see things clearly from 10,000 meters helicopter view and enables him or her to slowly and steadily dive deeper and deeper

Organizational Model

Now all that the Business Leader has to do is focus on – how each one of these activity streams will be managed and  by whom  for the most optimum performance.

The Key Challenge Leadership / Management team face when implementing all three activity streams

Now let us look at the specific people requirement and the required management style to effectively implement the three activity streams in an organization.

Activity Stream #1

People required

Are those who follow the SOP / guidelines to the dot. No variations are allowed. Very little or no experimentations are allowed

Management Style required

Command and Control

Core Concept

Absolute Certainty


Activity Stream # 2

People required

are those who are willing to experiment in controlled environment, synthesize knowledge from multiple fields and perspectives and create innovative solutions in a limited way, willing to fail

Management Style required

Delegating and Supporting

Core Concept

Certain level of Uncertainty and Ambiguity


Activity stream # 3

People required

Are those who are willing to try completely new things, who are willing to fail and learn, who are able to synthesize knowledge from multiple fields and perspectives and create completely radical new solutions

Management Style required

Collaborative and willing to give very high level of autonomy to the employees

Core Concept

Very high level of uncertainty and ambiguity. High risk. Impact of failure fairly high

As it is self evident, managing the three activity streams are like managing three different organizations with three different management styles and three different groups of people.

To summarize, the two major challenges a Business Leader faces are

  1. Managing the Three activity streams of an Organization
  2. Managing the three different types of people required for managing the three activity streams with three different management styles.

It is a daunting task even for a superman. Added to that is the limitation imposed by the Individual leader / manager, who himself or herself is inclined to be good in predominantly only one or two {in the best case} of these styles. They generally do not possess the bandwidth / breadth of inclination to manage all these three groups of people and demonstrate all these leadership styles concurrently.  

One can not just add resources as required in any organization. The hard reality in the ground is that every organization has resource crunch due to various reasons including cost reduction, efficiency and optimization. The end result is that people without the necessary capability and capacity  end up  managing all these three activity streams , eventually messing up the whole process and not achieve the intended results (for no fault of theirs)

Leadership Challenge and how Vistage can help

Let us explore how Vistage can help the Business Leaders handle these two major challenges effectively.

A mastermind group of 8 to 16 Business Leaders from non-competing industries work towards the common good – for the growth and development of one another, with a shared sense of responsibility

Each Business Leader may be an expert in one type of management style, and together this becomes potentially a deadly combination with more than one Business Leader being an expert in one of the management styles.  So each Business Leader get access to all three management styles. Looking at each problem any Business Leader brings to the table, the problem is looked from multiple perspectives and possible multiple solutions.

Over a period of time, this obviously helps to broaden the perspectives of every Business Leader in the group and be able to exercise different management styles depending on what the situation demands. This is a clear advantage of being part of Vistage.

Secondly, the mastermind group can also help to look at your leadership team and suggest ways and means of increasing the bandwidth / capacity of the management / leadership team by ensuring people with different styles / skills / attitude /approach are part of the team.

As it has been observed, people tend to employ their own types as part of the team due to the basic comfort factor.

Apart from this, the Chairs can also support the Business Leaders in managing their personality issues with various team members and offer suggestions on how to improve the interpersonal relationships managing the variety & diversity prevalent in every organization effectively.

So, don’t wait. Become part of Vistage, reap the benefits offered, the benefits being enjoyed by 24,000 + Business Leaders worldwide, take your career and your organization to the next level.


T.S. Murugavel Vistage

Chair / CEO Coach  – Singapore

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