February 19, 2015 heralded the beginning of the Year of the Goat. Whatever your views on the Chinese zodiac signs, the start of the new year is an opportune time for companies to reflect on their own predictions for the coming months and what portents they are going to put store in and what they’re not.
From an individual perspective, goats are known for creativity and perseverance. They are good entrepreneurs and can apply their courage and agility to creating new markets, new products and new opportunities. Famous inventors Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs were goats.
Goats can also be stubborn, putting their own interests ahead of others. Empress Cixi of the Qing Dynasty has been blamed for her dynasty’s downfall for this very reason. On the positive side, goats are extremely patient and have extraordinary inner strength. Besides being diplomatic, they are also attentive and considerate toward each other, and enjoy the company of others. So what should corporate leaders take note of in this Year of the Goat?
- Review your organization’s true north. The start of the New Year is a good time to review whether your corporate vision can really stand the test of time. The year will generally favour those enterprises that are clear on their higher purpose and understand the power of doing well by doing good.
- Adjust quickly to changes in environment. The year is likely to be volatile in Asia despite more stable governments in Indonesia and India. Corporates should harness the patience of the goat and plan for the long term, while ensuring their strategies allow plenty of opportunity for course correction if things change significantly along the way.
- Embed creativity into your organisation’s DNA. Creativity is too often regarded as an attribute of a few rather than the function of many. In the Year of the Goat, creativity should permeate through the veins of every organization. Goat leaders in particular, should harness their natural creative instincts and focus on clearing any inhibitors that may be blocking the creative flow within their organisation.
- Form uncommon alliances to solve social issues. Cross-sectorial collaboration has the potential to drive the next wave of social advance and business growth. By seeking partnerships with government and civil society to solve society’s most pressing social issues, corporates can get in front of this wave. Leaders should look beyond their traditional alliances at partnerships that give them access to new audiences and new ideas.
- Be an authentic leader. In the Year of the Goat, those leaders that take time to self-reflect will be the ultimate winners. Employees and shareholders will appreciate those leaders that are true to themselves and don’t succumb to the corporate hubris that seems to precede all financial and political crises. Integrity will become a value of real value, and those leaders that strive to achieve the highest levels of transparency for their organization will be recognised and rewarded.
Rachel Catanach is the Senior Partner, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of FleishmanHillard Hong Kong. You can reach her at Rachel.Catanach@fleishman.com