The keynote presentation at the 2022 BOMA International Conference & Expo on Sunday was supposed to be about “The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward.” But due to a last-minute case of COVID, New York Times bestselling author Daniel Pink was replaced by another best-selling author, Bill Taylor, founding editor of Fast Company, who tackled an equally important—if not more pressing—topic on the challenges business leaders and facility executives face today in his address titled, “Performing While Transforming,” which was sponsored by USAA Real Estate.
“These days, executives face two relentless sources of pressure,” Taylor said. “One, intense demand to perform, to deliver consistent, reliable results despite radical shifts in the economic and social environments. The second source is the urgent need to transform, to reimagine the future of your company given all these radical shifts and to rethinking your strategies and operations to win that future.”
Dealing with both simultaneously can feel genuinely daunting, Taylor said, suggesting that “performing while transforming is the challenge of our time.”
3 Leadership Challenges
Taylor pointed out that we are living in a time when ordinary is not an option. “You can’t do big things anymore if you do them a little bit differently or a little bit better than everyone else. The only way to stand out from the crowd is to do something special,” he said.
He posed three questions to the BOMA attendees that point to the three major challenges faced by leaders in the commercial building management industry today:
- What’s your unique definition of success?
- Do you work as distinctively as you hope to compete?
- Are you learning as fast as the world is changing?
In an industry that has been rife with change over the past two-and-a-half years, Taylor noted that the first job of leadership in today’s world is to recognize the fact that worries and objections to change remain the same and that playing it safe may be the most dangerous choice of all. “The risk of trying something new is actually much less than the cost of desperately clinging to what’s worked in the past,” he said.
Drawing on the tremendous success story of the eccentric minor league baseball franchise, The Savannah Bananas, Taylor demonstrated how even a familiar product can be transformed into an unforgettable experience when teams come together around originality and creativity.
Common Elements of "Companies of the Future”
The organizations that are poised to succeed in the future even as they perform in real time share several things in common, according to Taylor:
- They offer something that is hard to come by. “The question you have to ask is, amidst all this abundance, what do we offer what is scarce?” Taylor asked.
- They make a commitment to the unprecedented. They’re trying to do something that hasn’t been done quite that way before—something fresh and distinctive, he said.
- They are intensely human. “They understand that to be a leader today, really, is to be the human touch inside the firm. For all of our fascination with finance and business models and innovation, we have to be so much more in tune with the emotional and psychological needs of our customers and colleagues than ever before,” Taylor pointed out.
Quoting Rocket Mortgage founder Dan Gilbert, Taylor said: “It’s not about what we do, it’s about who we are. When you know who you are, then all of the decisions you have to make become a lot easier. When decisions are easier to make, things get better faster. Nothing clarifies like clarity.”
Taylor warned attendees about the danger of the “paradox of expertise,” urging them not to allow their existing knowledge to limit what they can imagine for the future. He concluded his inspiring presentation with a quote from author John W. Gardner in “Personal Renewal”:
“Everyone wants to be interesting. But the more important thing is to be interested. Keep a sense of curiosity. Discover new things. Risk failure. It’s what you learn after you ‘know it all’ that counts.”