Monday, March 5, 2012

Nouveau gorille

Begin a conversation in your non-native language and you  face a risk. Too awkward and unskilled? Maybe the natives will enjoy amusement, if only privately, at your expense. And if you seem too proficient, then you'll likely be hit with a barrage of phrases, slang, and technical terms that may find you wishing you had relied on expressions, body language -- and having others try to speak your language ( or maybe that cafe in Paris has an English menu after all).  Although wishing for mediocrity is never a noble notion, AJ Hyland of Hyland Software recently explained that success brings on its own unique challenges- here's why.

Hyland Software is the largest software company in the Cleveland area, and one of the fastest growing companies in the region. Hyland has nearly 1400 employees who help organizations around the world manage the vast amount of content that is created everyday and stored by governments, medical centers, Fortune 1000 companies - every type of customer. Name a continent, an industry or an application and chances are that Hyland has a presence. And chances are that compared with a few years ago, Hyland's market presence is now more like that of a gorilla, and less like the wall flower it was when it first entered the content management room.

 Hyland's CEO touched on this very topic when at recent executive lunch meeting he remarked at how different it is to be the "disrupter" in a market versus the "gorilla." It's easy to assume that it's more fun - and easier - to be one of the biggest players in the market. What most of us don't realize is that the skill sets and disposition required change dramatically. The leader of even the biggest "gorilla" organization needs to create a sense of urgency, educate on how we care about customers, continually create a leadership team, manage channel partners and channel conflicts- all while fending off challengers who would have been indifferent to you in the past.

 So as you move from your role as "niche ankle biter" to "gorilla," remember that even as the financial rewards increase, the challenges increase, too - and often change. When you become the gorilla, remember what got you there because you'll need to think like both a disrupter - and a gorilla - at the same time.

To download an MP3 of the entire luncheon panel, which also includes
Steve Potash from Overdrive, click here. 


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