Immediately following the decision by King Salman of Saudi Arabia to allow women to drive, automobile manufacturers reacted. Eager to unseat the dominant players in this large market, Ford and VW were on Twitter and BMW released a video showing a woman pulling out of a parking lot that is reserved for women. Good for them for reacting quickly. In the “very smart move” category, Ford reportedly offered a Mustang to Sahar Nasif, an activist.

What are the characteristics of this demographic? Probably not the same as men nor will all women be the same as one another. Or will they? Who will make the buying decisions? Will women themselves or will their husbands or fathers? Will social pressure prevent women from driving a red Mustang if they so choose?

When a market opportunity presents itself, jumping into view with a product to meet the demand is great. What’s next? A new market or market segment is both an opportunity and a risk. When the market isn’t well understood and can’t quickly be understood, this is high-stakes. The opportunity in Saudi Arabia will be good for some, no doubt. It remains to be seen who that is.

What transforms opportunity in high-stakes to value?

Courage to act

Judgment to take the right actions

Fortitude to pursue your objectives

Once your course is charted, leaders need the courage and judgment to make adjustments whether or not they fear criticism for being inconsistent. Consistently following a plan in the face of new information that should cause a change is not leadership, it is foolishness.

  • Are you courageous enough to allow yourself and others to think about what you would do if unlikely events occur?
  • Do you have the confidence in yourself and your people to move quickly? That is, move in to capture an opportunity and stop when it doesn’t work? Failure is not fatal unless you keep doing what isn’t working.
  • Are you courageous enough to alter the tempo of your company to capture an opportunity, whether or not you have as much information as you would like?
  • Is your judgment and that of those around you set to “continuously monitor” and adjust, not just measure?
  • Do you have the fortitude to remain steadfast in pursuit of the objective and flexible regarding methods?

These are the qualities of leaders who succeed when the stakes are high. Certainly, BMW, Ford, Volkswagen, and others have been readying themselves for the opportunity to move into the Saudi market, given the shift. They aren’t asleep at the wheel.

What shifts might you anticipate in your business? Share on X

Perhaps your business will be untouched by the changes discussed here. Don’t let that keep you from asking the questions – where is the opportunity that is just below the surface? What changes, politically, demographically, and otherwise will create needs and wants that you can meet?

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