The Year of the Leader

A dynamic economy spells opportunity for all companies in 2013. But seizing it in the face of growing uncertainty will require CEOs to up their game

Written by Ian Portsmouth

What will it take to win in 2013? Perhaps a more popular question is this: Will it be even possible to win in 2013? If that question captures your feelings about the year ahead, you will find some comfort in PROFIT’s 17th annual Opportunity Guide.

It should give you the sense that 2013 will present as many chances for higher sales and greater profits as any recent year. We’ve identified disparate opportunities to start a business or expand an existing one in a broad array of areas, such as online security, mobile tech and even housing. But the field is far from limited to those niches we’ve chosen as “best bets.”

No matter what your firm’s size, shape or age, it is operating in the most dynamic economy in history. Thanks to accelerating technological change, big demographic shifts and the mobility of products, people and ideas on an international basis, the marketplace is continually developing new wants and needs that business can address.

Change isn’t the enemy. In fact, it’s an entrepreneur’s best friend.

Which is not to say 2013 won’t be challenging. When the prevailing mood is one of uncertainty, if not pessimism, it’s going to be tougher to get business done. But there are winners and losers in every economy. Because the prime mover of any business sits in the CEO’s chair, landing on the right side of the next year’s ledger will be a function of leadership.

Given the economic doubts and fears swirling around us, the successful leaders of 2013 will restore and redouble the confidence of their employees, clients, suppliers, business partners and financial backers.

So, back to the original question: What will it take to win in 2013?

As always, fundamental to leadership is the ability to convince others that you can take them from where they are today to a better place tomorrow. That requires an appealing vision and a sound strategy.

Authenticity also will be needed in 2013—but far more so than in the past. An unhealthy degree of cynicism pervades society, because our business, political and religious leaders have shown us too many times that they are not the people they’d like us to believe they are. When an entrepreneur says one thing but means another, they lose the credibility that underpins effective leadership.

But authenticity won’t be enough; it must be backed by transparency. All that cynicism means the words and deeds of business owners are in question before they’ve even had the chance to make a false move. Great leaders won’t only walk the talk; they will continuously demonstrate how they are moving toward the promised outcomes.

That prospect may frighten many entrepreneurs, but being open to such scrutiny will force them to up their game. And that can only be good for business, when leadership matters the way it will in 2013.

Introducing: The PROFIT 500!

Next year brings our 25th annual ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. To mark the occasion, we’re going to honour 500 fast-moving firms, ranking them nationally, regionally and by sector. Your company could be one of them.

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