Today’s leaders need to have a full plate of skills in order to propel a company into the future. With so many leaders of a certain age set to leave corporations, there is a lack of the skills needed to do so.
Business smarts, savvy, acumen, whatever you call it, the company needs it. What does it mean and, moreover, what does it mean in today’s business world? Business is changing rapidly, it’s vital people keep up.
What is Business Acumen?
In order for a business to succeed or even thrive, it needs people who can lead, think critically and see the future with a clear plan on getting there. They need to be visionaries, planners and decision makers.
- Understanding the Financial Aspects
People with business acumen need to be able to clearly understand how the company generates its income and the best, most cost effective way to do that. They need to be able to look at the company and know how to make money.
Understanding financial concerns, like what is coming in versus costs is an important part of being able to plan for the financial future of the organization.
- Strategic Thinkers
This really comes down to planning. It’s bigger than just making a day to day plan, it must include long and short term goals. It involves a process where people can see the future, how to get there and all the things needed to get there.
It also must include plans for failure, roadblocks, change and other things that will hinder the plan and slow things down. There will be several and good strategic thinkers who will have several plans for solving the problem.
- Problem Solving
Business acumen means being able to see several ways out of the same problem. There is rarely one solution for any one problem, so the ability to come up with several is important. The ability to have them ready before the problems occur is even more desirable.
This is a big issue organizations are facing, in particular with a changing of leadership roles. The senior leaders are leaving and the newer ones coming up lack communication skills.
Leaders need to be able to get their ideas across, explain the company’s objectives and goals and make sure everyone knows their role in how those goals will be met.
It involves active listening and being open to new ideas. It’s taking those ideas and turning them into plans and actions. It’s sharing those ideas with everyone to make sure everyone is heading in the same direction.
- Strong Leadership Skills
A strong leader has the unique ability to guide the team forward, communicate and mentor, be strong and yet flexible, trustworthy and transparent. They need to inspire people to commit to the company, the goals of the company and the goals of the individuals, as well.
They need to be able to make decisions, often, quickly and be accountable for those decisions. They also need to be able to find ways out of wrong decisions with as little disruption as possible.
They need to pull their weight, understand the position of every single team member and the positions of the company as a whole. They need to be able to delegate responsibilities and empower others to take charge and be accountable, as well.
They need to be creative, logical and be able to use both of those powers together to plan and create objects, goals and foresee any problems, with solutions.
People in possession of strong business acumen are strong, bright and confident. You need to be able to sell every one of the goals and the vision with confidence so you will be believed and followed.
That means standing by your plan, your convictions and persevering through all that may come your way. No one believes in someone who doesn’t believe in themselves.
Why Business Acumen Matters
When leaders are in control and have a clear understanding of the objectives of the organization, then hey can pass that on to the team. It enables people to be more productive and efficient.
Getting everyone to communicate and understand the vision of the company keeps the company competitive and productive. It helps promote the growth of the organization.
The success of the company depends on strong business acumen, strong leadership and communication and focus. Developing a plan that everyone understands keeps the company moving forward together.
Learning Business Acumen
There are certain aspects that may come quite naturally to some people, other parts they may struggle with. As a corporation, it is up to the leaders of today to train and develop those skills in the leaders of tomorrow.
This can be done through mentoring, job shadowing and business simulation games and programs. The best way to develop these skills is by doing them. Luckily, the days of trial and error are gone, people can learn and practice these skills in a safe, controlled environment with guidance and supervision.
Business acumen is a lot of things. It takes practice and care to develop these skills. These skills are what organizations will be needed more and more of. As companies turn to digital transformation, leadership skills, communication, critical thinking and vision are going to be in high demand.
You can’t learn business acumen in school but you can certainly acquire some of the skills needed to start developing those features. It takes guidance and practice to develop strong business acumen.
The Future of Business
Business acumen will be one of the most demanded skills needed over the next ten years and beyond. The old school CEOs are leaving and that means a new level of leaders is coming forward.
They need to be able to perform the jobs of their predecessors and more. There are fewer separations of how companies operate, they need to work together to achieve the goals and objectives set out.
Business acumen is where new leaders need to focus their talents for a competitive and successful company.