Leaders not only need to use powerful and effective thinking, they need to be aware of opportunities that become available in their situation. Previously we established one word definitions for strategy (choice), candidate moves (possibilities), strategic thinking (analysis), and tactics (opportunities).
This issue continues the series of skills successful leaders need and that is their ability to see, evaluate and take advantage of opportunities called tactics. Tactical Opportunities Can Make or Break a Business. Tactical opportunities occur at various levels in the competitive business world.
Businesses play tactics against each other (B2B), businesses play tactics against their customers (B2C), customers play tactics against businesses (C2B), businesses play tactics against their employees (B2E), employees play tactics against their companies (E2B) and employees play tactics against each other (E2E) forming the basis of “office politics.”
In (B2B) situations, businesses play tactics against each other. One company may raid another company for their employees. Tech companies made a voluntary agreement not to go after each other’s employees as a way of keeping salaries in check in their industry. They had to abandon the practice once it was uncovered by the government.
Businesses go after each other through pricing mechanisms by stealing competitors’ customers. Recently co-working companies attacked each other by handing out flyers for free rent while in the doorway of their competitor’s establishment.
In (B2C) situations, businesses take advantage of their customers. They may issue a coupon for a rebate and then make it difficult to redeem the coupon. A major bank was hit with substantial fines for forcing mortgage holders to take out insurance they didn’t really need.
The bank is now issuing refunds after getting caught. In (C2B) situations, customers turn the tables and take advantage of a business. Typical situations are when customers boycott a business that is not up to their standards. A cereal company bowed to pressure from customers to eliminate artificial dyes and flavoring in their cereal.
Now a subsequent backlash has the company putting the colors back in because parents want the cereal to look and taste like what they had when they were children. Yep it’s the cereal that says Tricks are for kids.
In (B2E) situations businesses take advantage of their employees through reorganizations and layoffs. In Chicago a “unicorn” tech company laid off 51 employees to make sure the right people were in the right positions, yet the company admitted they were still hiring.
Companies go into bankruptcy to avoid having to pay extensive pension costs for their employees yet after they reorganize they continue to operate as usual. In (E2B) situations, employees attack their companies many times by becoming a desperado whistleblower and suing the company successfully.
A major airline had a scheduling glitch that left many holiday flights without pilots. Pilots managed to cover the flights by getting concessions from the airline for their mistakes.
In (E2B) situations, employees attack their companies many times by becoming a desperado whistleblower and suing the company successfully. A major airline had a scheduling glitch that left many holiday flights without pilots.
Pilots managed to cover the flights by getting concessions from the airline for their mistakes. In (E2E) situations, employees attack each other and form the basis of office politics. In the case of a big bank, an employee was terminated from the company.
Shortly thereafter, the fired employee contacted the bank and told them that his boss had made disparaging remarks about the government overseers who were screwing up the retirement parachutes the company could offer. Once the company was made aware of the situation, the boss was fired as well. A classic desperado, I’m going down and I’m taking you with me.
Tactical opportunities require “being in the moment” to evaluate and, either pass or take advantage of the situation. The skewer tactic occurs in chess and business. In chess, an important piece, usually the king or queen, is under attack from an enemy piece and has to step aside and allow a lower-ranked piece behind it to take the ‘hit’ or be captured.
In business, it is the phenomena of a high-ranking official looking for a scapegoat or underling to take the blame for a situation or “to throw under the bus.” Can you find the skewer tactic here that wins the black rook? (…Ke7, Rh7+) Another chess/business tactic occurs after companies undergo a layoff; the survivors are often required to pick up the work from those who departed.
This can lead to an overworked employee or an overworked piece in chess. It’s management’s job to determine when and if an employee has too much to do because there will be consequences when that happens.
The SEC was clearly overworked in pursuing white collar financial crime which allowed the biggest Ponzi scheme to run for years before getting caught. Can you find the overworked piece in this position?
(Ne3). If the knight doesn’t capture the knight on g4, white gets checkmated with Qh2. If the knight captures the knight on g4, white gets checkmated with Qg2 or Qg4. So the knight calls the home office and asks them what he should do, and they hang up on him since they don’t have an answer either.
Since tactical opportunities require “being in the moment” business people and chess players must react quickly to take advantage of the opportunity when it exists or it may pass and not happen again.
In companies that trade stocks, commodities or currencies, they monitor their specialty waiting for an opportunity to become available.
But when the opportunity occurs, they need to act or someone else will take the trade you didn’t.In business, companies take advantage of the situation because they have the opportunity to do so.
One company cannot fire another company’s employee because they just aren’t in a position (or have the opportunity) to do so. Next Issue: Leadership – Good Decision-Making Drives Better Bottom Line Results
Jim Egerton is the CEO and founder of Business on the Board™. He is a respected thought leader, teacher, coach, manager, entrepreneur, and a #1 International Best Selling author whose work has impacted the lives of thousands. His management, information technology and training experience comes from serving in the health care, energy and finance industries.