Good business leaders need to be able to take a strong, big-picture view when it comes to dealing with problems in a business. This is a big part of business acumen. Good leaders can make quick, accurate assessments of the actions required, and they can offer logical, confident input. They can use their social skills to influence others and to create a consensus.
In a company, there is usually at least one manager that is seen as being the one with good general business acumen. He will exercise sound judgment, and usually, the results of any decisions that he makes are favourable. It is managers like this that support companies to have a more profitable and sustainable outlook. Acumen is a broad term, and it covers all of the aspects of running a business – including finance and accounting, operational functions, HR and sales.
A Breadth of Understanding
In a small business, one manager might take on several roles. In a bigger business, a company may have experts that handle accounting, marketing production, finance and IT. There is still the need for a manager, however, that can tie all those experts together. Individual managers should be able and willing to think about how their decisions might affect each other too. Those who can see the whole of the business are ones who have a good general business acumen and will be an asset to any business they work with.
Being able to effectively communicate with people in different areas of the organisation is something that people with acumen can do. A marketing manager does not need to have a degree in finance, but they should have enough of a broad understanding to communicate clearly with the finance director. The finance director should be able to express concerns or make requests of the IT department. PEople with good acumen will be thinking ahead, planning and looking for insights into the opportunities that might come their way. They are always aiming to stay ahead of the competition, and they have good vision when it comes to where their company is going.
Specialist vs Generalist
Those who show strong acumen in the general field of business will have the chance to rise through the ranks in whatever business they deal with. Having good judgment is useful for a CEO because the decisions that they make impact the whole of the organisation. A generalist might be asked to take on high visibility jobs, and lead other managers to report to a board of directors. In a smaller company, an entrepreneur might be asked to show the ability to manage all of the functional areas of the business, because they do not have the staff to take on those roles. By having a good level of general acumen, the entrepreneur will be able to grow the business to the level where they can appoint those specific staff.
There are a couple of qualities and skills that build acumen. Someone who is a good listener has good acumen. Someone who takes the time to cultivate relationships will be in a good position to develop acumen. Taking the time to learn how a business work is also important. As you are working up the ranks, ask your superiors to show you research that is relevant to your organisation. Seek out market research reports, and read up on the latest events in the industry. Try to learn as much as possible about the broader operations of the company. This will give you the chance to contribute insightfully about more topics in meetings and will allow you the chance to prove yourself when it comes to your abilities, knowledge and interest within the business.