C-Suite Advisory

Why strive to be Indispensable?

Why strive to be Indispensable? Because your competition is global…and overwhelming. A new book,  Indispensable: Build and Lead A Company Customers Can’t Live Without comes out of the gate with a holistic rationale on why it is important to look at the critical elements of your business, and how to put effective practices in place. Written by Jim Kerr, a management consultant, leadership coach and founder of Indispensable Consulting.

This book has been 30 years in the making and contains winning strategies learned from Jim’s work with some of the world’s best organizations. It is a masterful blend of theory, frameworks, best practices, practical application and profiles of exemplary leaders like Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Sara Blakely and Marc Benioff.

Kerr reminds readers that leadership is a choice, and one must rise to the occasion or get out of the way. To build and lead a company that customers (and employees!) can’t live without, there are key principles of focus:

  • The Right leadership
  • The Right Vision
  • The Right Culture
  • The Right People
  • The Right Trust and Empowerment
  • The Right Change Management Practices

Each of these principles is explored in depth in its own book chapter in an easy-to-read format. I particularly like the bulleted “how to” and “what to think about” lists throughout the book, which offer clear, concise and actionable tips on considering and executing on the offered concepts. Ideas such as “Leadership requires risk-taking; management requires restraint,” “Your reaction time slows proportionately with your fear of failure” and “It’s almost never too late to right the ship” are backed by Kerr’s targeted advice that can only come from decades of experience and hands-on leadership work.

Other business fundamentals that are central to the book are the ability to put customers first, anticipating and solving problems before they spin out of control, asking for feedback, keeping promises and going “above and beyond.”

Delving beyond a cookie-cutter approach to “one-size fits all” vision statements, Kerr examines detailed storytelling techniques that can act as a rallying cry for staff across the company. Kerr draws from his own experience working with LexisNexis on vision story-telling, Jewelers Mutual Insurance on socializing a story and General Dynamics on the importance of engaging middle management.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast…and this book highlights why some companies need an overhaul and provides examples of how others are taking concrete steps to improve their cultures, including liberalization of work policies to align with employee needs and providing educational and growth opportunities. A positive and reputable culture depends on, and attracts, the “right people” to drive success today and in the future. Kerr describes how to recognize customer-centric talent, inspire NextGen workers and shape a diverse workforce – looking at talent acquisition and management through a contemporary lens.

Rounding out the chapters are lessons in change management, resiliency and building the next generation of leaders.

There is no shortage of good reads on leadership. However, this particular book stands out. Kerr’s approach of aligning leadership principles with business need and outcome, practical examples and best practices makes this book an indispensable addition to an executive’s bookshelf.

Written by Cheryl Dixon. Have you read?
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Cheryl Dixon
Cheryl Dixon is a strategic communications and brand marketing professional with more than 25 years of experience across diverse business verticals. She has held senior leadership roles at some of the world's most iconic brands, building brand awareness and loyalty for Coty, Grohe, CHANEL, Pepsi Cola North America, Ernst & Young LLP and Abbott Laboratories. In addition to her corporate experience, she has been a trusted thought leader and Adjunct Professor for more than 15 years, teaching graduate-level classes at Columbia University and New York University. She has also lectured at Parson's, Fashion Institute of Technology and Saint John's University. Cheryl Dixon is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on LinkedIn.