What does it mean? In short, it means understanding your business—keenly. It’s knowing what details matter and why, and then it’s understanding how they come together and affect the big picture. In developing your business acumen, you learn how to improve structure and systems at every level. You learn which risks are worth taking, and which ones are less so. I‘ve said it before, but developing business acumen is an ongoing learning process that takes commitment, strong discipline and planning.
Sometimes it takes Failure
Frankly, in the beginning, business acumen development can seem daunting to many, and it’s understandable. It’s also why not everyone is a Leader. And by the way, even CEOs have failures—often, in fact. However, Leaders who have the freedom to fail, and who are engaged and steadfast in their resolve to meet their goals and see their visions come to light have fewer failures. They understand that being a Rare Leader takes practice, hard work and dedication.
There are a lot of really smart people in our world. They have mastered their craft. However, in reality they are really boring (but perhaps great) tacticians. While vitally important to tangible success of a business, they never gain acceptance from others as a Leader because they lack Business Acumen. Their door remains closed.
The door opens for you to the executive table, and the invitation is extended, not because you are are good at your craft, but because you have creative, insightful, visionary business acumen.
Want some answers?
In coaching business leaders on acumen development, I get a lot of really smart questions. Here are a few answers that stand out to me, as they lead to a good starting point:
- Follow the dollar – Where does it enter the organization, and how does it move through and back to the customer, as value delivered?
- Ask questions – How else will you learn if you can’t admit you don’t know everything? And, if you are inquisitive, your teaching audience believes you really care to learn.
- Network – Get out of your busy little bee hive. Learn best practices. Meet people who are making things happen in their business. Believe you never stop learning from new friends. After all, “when you make friends, business follows”.