Six Lessons Auto Industry Business Leaders Can Learn from PokerPoker can be very addictive for some and highly intelligent for others. In fact, there are several parallels found between success playing poker and running an auto industry business.

Like poker players, auto industry business leaders use logic and reason to make strategic decisions and they know how to calculate risk. They know how big the market is and how much they hope to conquer.

An article in Fast Company talked about how to know if you’re the fish or the shark at the table. Here are the lessons they provided that business leaders can apply throughout their careers:

The Point of Control

In Texas Hold’em, you are dealt two cards you can see but your opponents can’t. Each player has control of the situation, they either decide to be in the hand or fold.

As a business leader, you are in control at the start of any situation. You decide to do something or you don’t. Whether it’s responding to an email, seeing a sales rep, or hiring an employee, you either fold or stay in the hand.

The Power of Position

In poker, understanding the power position is the most important because you are able to make decisions after you’ve gathered information from your opponents.

In business, when a competitor declares what they want first, you have information they don’t. In poker terms, you have the power of position. In business and in poker, it’s that ability to use your power of position regardless of the strength of your hand which separates the good players from the great ones.

To Make Decisions, Try Math

In poker and in business, calculating the odds and expectations are important. In poker you don’t have to be a math genius. Poker players base decisions on expected value. The calculation doesn’t ensure every hand will be profitable, however as long as a player plays hands with positive expectations and folds hands with negative expectations, they will be profitable in the long run.

Business leaders do something similar with decision trees. They assign each branch with probabilities and likely profits and choose the branch with the highest expected value.

Understanding and Adjusting to the Style of Competitors

Poker players watch and learn how their opponents play and make adjustments to how they are playing. Business leaders do the same. They both need to learn the comfort zone of their competitor so they can adjust to take advantage of their competitor’s style.

Keep Others in the Game

Poker players want as many opponents as possible when they have a great hand. They slowly put their chips in the pot and never bet so much their opponent would fold. They want to make the pot as large as possible. Then in the last round of betting, they put all of their chips in.

In business, they apply the same approach. When a business leader knows they have an exceptional product no competitor can match, they expand the market during the introduction and early growth phase by alluring competitors to invest in promotion and advertising. Once the pot is as large as possible, they put all of their chips in and go for market domination.

Look through the Eyes of Others

The most important lesson you can learn in poker, is looking at everything through your opponent’s eyes. They don’t make decisions on what they have in their hands, but rather what their opponent has.

When a business leader sees through the eyes of the customers, competitors, their employees, and stakeholders, they discover the “truth in their error” or “the error in our truth” according to the Fast Company article. Once you’re able to see through the eyes of others, decisions become much easier.

What business lessons from playing poker would you add?

Image: BaileyRaeWeaver via Flickr, CC 2.0

Leaders: Five Transitions Great Ones MakeThe most successful business people recognize that leadership ability is the sum of experience and perspective. So what sets successful leaders apart from the average?

In a Forbes post from 2013, contributor and leadership advisor Mike Myatt outlines five transitional phases that all great leaders move through to go from good to great.

Leaders Find Purpose

The best business leaders recognize the importance of common purpose and shared values to the success of their organizations. Purpose is a defining characteristic that shapes passion, and helps dictate a strong work ethic.

Myatt points out that those driven by profit may find themselves successful for a short time, but “great leaders make the transition from profit to purpose.”

He notes that a lesson many average business people miss is the role of profit in a company’s success. While all businesses exist to make money, great leaders recognize that purpose at the personal and organizational level is the key to prolonged success.

People First

For Myatt, the role of a leader is inspiring change and helping others recognize value in themselves, and the organization.

“Average leaders spend time scaling processes, systems, and models — great leaders focus on scaling leadership.”

Being a great leader involves some level of introspection and humility, and recognizing that trust, loyalty, and respect from your employees are earned through the way that you lead.

Develop Awareness

“Great leaders are self aware, organizationally aware, contextually aware, and emotionally aware.”

They embrace an open leadership style focused on learning and listening from everyone in their organization, and aren’t threatened when their decisions and positions are challenged.

Leaders who are unwilling to change their minds when challenged by their employees won’t grow and develop as leaders.

Shun Complexity

Great innovators are continually looking for ways to simplify the way they do business, for the benefit of their customers and their employees.

Myatt argues that complexity in the organization stifles innovation and negatively impacts culture. Think about the way that your organization delivers value to clients, partners, and employees.

If a process can be streamlined for efficiency without sacrificing quality, simplify.

Get Personal

“Great leaders understand nothing is more personal than leadership, and they engage accordingly. The best leaders understand a failure to engage is a failure to lead,” says Myatt.

Businesses are human-powered enterprises, and truly effective and mature leaders demonstrate empathy and compassion at every turn. They listen carefully to those around them, coach employees through complex problems, and always look for opportunities to learn from their teams.

Performance is achieved by helping others become successful.

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