Is Business Leadership Different Today?

With so many unprecedented events affecting both the hardwood lumber industry and industry in general, some natural questions arise. Has business leadership changed from what it once was? Are the leadership models of the past still relevant today? How can leaders adapt to ever-changing market conditions?

Here at Baillie Lumber, we believe leadership is rooted in the fundamentals of trust, respect, collaboration, and vision. It’s the foundation of who we are and what we do—and will continue to do in the future.leadershiptoday

At the same time, we understand that adaptability is essential to success in leadership today. Here are some other elements of leadership we feel are integral to the challenges that lie ahead:

Focus on the team. A leader isn’t a leader unless there is a team to lead. The deeper that leader’s understanding of what makes the teamwork, the stronger the organization will be. Not enough leaders take time to get to know the people who work for them, and sometimes this lack of knowledge fosters the impression that they don’t care.

“The time you spend with your team members is incredibly valuable,” notes Forbes.  In meetings and other interactive encounters, this is “where trust is built, decisions are made, relationships are strengthened, collaboration happens, and learning and innovation occur.”

In other words, being a leader means knowing the team you lead and encouraging team members to become leaders themselves.

Acknowledge you don’t have all the answers. Leaders are, by and large, individuals with considerable intelligence and curiosity. At the same time, they know they don’t have all the answers. They understand that it’s vitally important to always be curious, as a way of staying on top of what’s happening in the world and in their industry.

Promote a culture that supports debate. Too many times, leaders find themselves in an environment where no one challenges their thinking. But making key strategic decisions should involve as many different perspectives as possible, and strong leaders support a culture where such debate is encouraged.

“It’s nice to have agreement and consensus without static, but it is not effective or logical to operate this way,” notes Inc. The solution is creating a larger circle of discussion that can “elevate underrepresented voices and create space” for broader decision-making.

Learn how to adapt. No leader can afford the luxury of maintaining fixed ideas. Adaptability is among the top qualities every leader should have. To improve your own leadership flexibility, author and speaker Dan Nielsen suggests the following:

  • Actively seek out ways to innovate, both within the organization and in response to changing customer demands.
  • Expect that even the best-laid plans can go awry and that you and your team will need to respond appropriately to changing circumstances.
  • Understand that your individual leadership style and the policies you promote should always remain subject to change.

In essence, “you must be continuously growing and looking for better and more efficient methods and strategies,” Nielsen says.

Be prepared to make unpopular decisions. As noted, involving the team in decision-making is crucial. At the same time, the final outcome remains the leader’s responsibility.

For us in the hardwood lumber industry leaders can be faced with a seemingly never-ending amount of decisions. It could potentially mean making tough decisions regarding bidding on a timber tract, buying green lumber, whether to saw Hard Maple or White Oak next or even something as basic as how to bring our hardwood lumber products to market. 

Strong leadership makes the difference between businesses that thrive and those that struggle to stay afloat. The strongest leaders are those who are open to debate, adapt to changing circumstances, and consistently support their team members’ capacity for growth.

How has leadership changed within your organization? We would love to hear your thoughts!

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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