Every organization needs competent leaders at all levels so that they can hold all the pieces together and make decisions that will benefit the larger organization. And considering that most company’s succession pipelines are unreliable, business acumen has become a topic of great interest in the area of leadership development. With the growing global economy, modern companies are in dire need of leaders, managers, and employees who can cut through the chase and directly contribute to the achievement of organizational goals and objectives. These are individuals who are often referred to as having strong business acumen.
What is Business Acumen?
Business acumen in the modern volatile, complex, and uncertain business world refers to employee understanding how a business makes money, how they contribute to it, and the key factors that contribute to a company being it is. Financial Times defines define acumen as the ‘keenness and the speed at which an individual understands and decides on a business situation.”
If you can understand all your company’s financial goals and decipher how all of its moving parts come together to accomplish the goals, you have business acumen. Since this trait is lacking in many organizations, most of them have created leadership development programs that include business acumen simulations to instill this trait across all levels of leadership. However, the mind-boggling question is how to get started with creating a participant Snoozefest.
Teaching business acumen without creating a participant Snoozefest
- Understanding the Thought Process
Since business acumen heavily relies on thinking and analysis, understanding your thought process is imperative. Once you manage to decode and understand the various frameworks under which a business operates, and the different direction that a decision can take, you’ll be ready to judge actions and steps. By improving the understanding of your decision-making process, you will learn to comprehend complex business frameworks and how they work.
- Expanding Business Knowledge
Having business acumen is not all about knowing how a specific organization operates, but also knowing more about the business landscape in general and the industry as a whole. Without a broader understanding and in-depth knowledge of the industry, your ability to come up with comprehensive solutions will be impaired. You can broaden your business focus by understanding the current competing tensions, the business strategies to provide a competitive advantage, and things like why talent acquisition is critical to a business.
- Develop Management and Leadership Skills
Developing business acumen doesn’t only revolve around understanding the business itself but also the people in it. For a business to be successful, you will rely on people to propel your vision and work tirelessly to ensure that your strategies have been implemented. Therefore, focus on improving people skills so that you can learn how to manage and lead people. Having the right people’s skills helps improve the efficiency and output of the organization. Lack of business acumen is seen when the failure to lead and manage others causes employee dissatisfaction and a reduction in the company’s productivity. Strong business acumen is associated with the ability to empathize, understand, and monitor different behaviors. Many companies use business acumen training simulations to develop a strong business acumen leadership development program.
- Read Extensively to Improve Proficiency
An excellent way of developing business acumen is reading. The knowledge and abilities you need are all hidden in books. If you are starting your leadership role, learn more about organization structure, financial systems, and leadership development. As you move up the ladder, you can begin creating meaningful connections and networks, and ask them to refer books you can read to improve your skills. We’re not talking abouy having to read heavy reading such as the economist. Pickup a newspaper (um, or pad) and read some business articles. It will go a long way.
- Business Acumen Training Simulations (Of Course!)
Business Acumen Training Simulations can be one of the most effective training tools to help you develop business acumen. This process involves the integration of computer-based technology into a learning process. A business acumen training simulation will enable you to learn a lot in a controlled environment where there is no fear of failure. An outstanding business acumen design enables participants to learn about various business topics, including strategy, marketing, finance, and operations, all through case studies that resemble real-life situations.
- Mentorship Programs
Like any other skill, business acumen can also be instilled through mentorship and coaching. So, for participants who are serious enough about it, find someone in a higher position and use them as a resource. Ask them all the questions you have about their roles, how they manage to connect all the moving parts, how everything they do fits into the company strategy, and how they managed to be where they are. Finding accomplished and reliable mentors will help you develop business acumen, which will lead you to success.
- Business Acumen Should be made one of the Core Competencies
In most companies, there are various sets of core competencies that organizations want employees to develop. If business acumen isn’t part of your company’s core competencies, talk to the managers, and become a champion of adding it to the list. When business acumen becomes part and parcel of your professional development, you will significantly improve your chances of becoming a respected leader in the future.
- Seek to Understand the Customers
The last step to successfully develop business acumen is to try and understand customers. Familiarize yourself with the customers and not just their names, but other aspects such as what they do, their buying behavior, their motivation, the market segment they fall into, and what value they derive from the company. Additionally, customers can be precious since they can provide honest reviews and recommend some of the areas needing improvement in your business. Once you understand the customers, you can use the experience to help create services and products that will deliver more satisfaction.
Although it’s a fact that business acumen can be taught, it is not something that you learn once, and you’re done. Like the corporate world, business acumen is also susceptible to change. Therefore, leaders who want to develop this trait should keep learning. They can do this by following the strategies discussed in this piece, which include finding mentorship opportunities, expanding knowledge base, understanding the thinking process, participating in business simulations, and others. However, if you want to get the best out of these strategies, schedule development, and learning sessions, and try to embrace the corporate world with an open and inquisitive mind.