Five things CEOs should know on how to lead by being nimble, adaptive and taking controlled risks

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Today’s business environment is fast-paced and dynamic. As a leader, this presents as many opportunities as it does challenges. A quick, changing market allows for innovation and creativity but it also calls businesses to rapidly adapt to changes in the market.
In my own experience, having a team that is nimble, adapting to market changes and fully analyzing risks, have been crucial to not only help us survive in today’s fast-paced climate but to allow our company to gain market share, create shareholder return and drastically grow the business.
Here are five things any CEO can apply in their company to move more quickly and effectively toward their goals:
Empower your people
At the core of staying nimble is taking down all bureaucratic obstacles. Remove long approval processes, extended organizational charts and big titles. If you encourage everyone on you team to think and act like owners, then the entire enterprise can move quicker and pivot as the market and consumer needs change.
Furthermore, it’s important to bring young, aggressive, smart and talented individuals who will challenge the status quo and do things differently. I personally love giving young talent big business challenges and letting them come up with innovative ideas we can test as a team.
Leverage data to know your customers’ needs and wants
Adapting to consumer behavior is important to stay relevant and be successful. By analyzing the data available to you in your business, you can continuously study customer behavior and try to predict changes in demand. Doing so allows you to adapt your business model to the changes you see and reap the rewards.
Two years ago, for example, at Driven Brands, we decoupled sales from production when we rolled out the MAACO retail program. This move was a departure from the historical MAACO model, which called for a full production facility in an industrial area of town. We decided, instead, to move the sales office to a high-traffic retail area, places where consumers shop, live, and get entertainment. T
he results have been phenomenal. We are now capturing more affluent female consumers who are willing to spend more for our services and MAACO is winning big.
Carefully analyze your risks          
Innovating is an important part of growing your business but testing new ideas is critical before you take on risks. Operating in the automotive aftermarket space gives us the opportunity to collect and analyze many data inputs. From consumer demographics to purchase behavior and from media consumption to satisfaction indexes, we are fortunate enough to leverage big data in a way that allows us to take controlled risks.
For example, we test four to six new marketing ideas every two months and this allows us to quickly learn about the impact and effectiveness of our promotions.
Have a clear vision
It’s important in a company that everyone works toward a common goal – and that they understand what that goal is. By having a clear strategy that is supported by research and analysis, you can move quicker to make things happen. This was the case with our company’s recent acquisition of CARSTAR.
Because we had a clear investment thesis that showed it could add more value to our franchise system by having CARSTAR and MAACO under one umbrella, we were able to make the acquisition happen.
Communication is key
Effective communication is key for any organization — and it starts with its leaders. As a leader, it’s important to make sure members of your team know how they factor in to your overall goal and that they clearly understand their role in achieving that common goal. Communication and transparency with all parties involved is also essential when dealing with complex business transactions, such as mergers & acquisitions.
Jose R. Costa is group president for Driven Brands where he leads MAACO®, CARSTAR and Drive N Style®. Costa is responsible for more than $1.2 billion in revenue and more than 1,000 locations across North America.