Ecosystems require a different type of leadership. Gaining ecosystem edge requires a radical change in mindset of all, from the CEO down. In our interactions with dozens of ecosystem builders, we found that all, despite their different industries and starting points, shared four key beliefs to a greater or lesser extent.
First, all had an unshakable conviction that there was an opportunity to create new customer value by creating an ecosystem. It always starts with a focus on the ultimate value you want to create for a customer.
Second, ecosystem builders share an ever-growing conviction that no company acting alone can unlock the opportunity. All the CEOs we studied were certain that the challenges they faced could only be met by identifying, attracting, and harnessing the knowledge, capabilities, and innovation potential of partners. They also felt that the solution couldn’t be found by slotting potential allies into well-defined roles in conventional supply chains.
Third, successful ecosystem builders focus on attracting, engaging, and motivating people who aren’t their employees. Every seasoned leader knows how to communicate a vision and a mission that their employees will buy into and motivate them to achieve it. However, the difference when leading an ecosystem is that most of the people you have to motivate and inspire don’t work for you! Those who aspire to lead an ecosystem must always keep in mind that their role involves leading and motivating people across the network—not just the employees of their company.
Fourth, successful leaders of an ecosystem focus more on growing the size of the pie, rather than on the how it is distributed among the partners in the ecosystem.