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Tap 'return on involvement' for competitive edge

May 28 2015 19:29
Carin Smith

Cape Town - Building competitive advantage needs creative leadership and great creativity comes from the edge, usually not via the middle, according to Kevin Roberts, Worldwide executive chair of Saatchi & Saatchi.

In his first visit to Cape Town since 1995 he addressed a group of local employees and clients on Thursday.

"I get up every morning wanting to win. The role of a leader is to create leaders. Creative leaders are purpose driven and have a dream," said Roberts, who also repeatedly made it clear what a big All Black rugby supporter he is.

"It is no good being excellent at the wrong thing. Winners create a movement, not just a brand. In order to make a success one needs the ABCs, namely ambition, belief and courage."

He explained that currently people live in a "VUCA world", in other words, characterised by being volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. In this VUCA world one needs to be smart, be emotionally mature, tech savvy, fast and creative.

Whereas leaders usually spend 50% of their time to assess a matter, 30% of their time to decide what to do and 20% on execution, Roberts said executives at giants like Google and Facebook spend 20% on assessment, 10% on deciding and 70% on execution.

"In the past the big boys called the shots with power and weapons and bullied the rest of the world. Today all you need to change the world is one great idea and these can come from anywhere, but usually from the edge," said Roberts.

"Great ideas don't need money or great spend, they need vibrancy and emotional connect."

New no longer new

The concept of something being new is no longer as important as immediacy, he continued. Speed has become very important as well as participation.

"People don't want to be sold something. They want to be invited to join in. Return on involvement rules in the 'Age of Now' as opposed to return on investment in the 'Era of Now'. CEO's should be more like a chief excitement officer," said Roberts.

"Emotion generates premium returns and loyalty beyond reason. Creative leaders make things happen rather than merely getting things done. We need creative leaders to make the world a better place for everyone."

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