Why seeking external input is a strength, not a weakness

By Daniel Taylor, head of manufacturing, NZTE

There is no doubt that these are testing times for many of our manufacturing exporters. Change continues at a rapid rate, and what is advanced thinking today can very quickly become old news.

For a long time, New Zealand manufacturers have been rightly lauded for their innovation and independence of thought in the face of this rapid change – but when does independence tip over from a virtue to a vice?

In my view, that happens when asking for support and external input is seen as a weakness rather than a strength.

In a super-fast paced, hyper-connected global marketplace, it is unrealistic to think that any one person can hold all the answers, or even understand all the questions, and trying to do so is only likely to lead to you taking your eye off what really matters.

Seeking alternate views enables leaders to maximise their own skill sets, get the best out of their teams, and develop their business at a rate far faster than they could do alone.

This doesn’t mean you should mindlessly outsource key business decisions. By engaging with those who have more knowledge, experience or expertise, you’re continuing your own development and positioning yourself to learn more about yourself, your business and your team every day.

One common mistake leaders make when seeking ‘outside-in’ thinking is to only engage with those they already know to have a similar mindset to their own. There is enormous benefit in seeking alternate views that challenge your preconceptions, whereas an echo chamber can lead to great opportunities being missed.

And support networks shouldn’t just be reserved for times of strife. They’re also a crucial tool to maximise opportunities and to ensure that your business is best placed to succeed through the good times. Make seeking external input a regular part of your business rhythm, and you’ll be really well placed to keep your operation match-fit, and ensure that change is an exciting opportunity, and Kiwi ingenuity can truly shine.

External input can range from a formal mentoring or advisory relationship through to a regular coffee with someone who’s views you trust and who can challenge your thinking. Another avenue is NZTE. We have a number of useful guides and resources to help our manufacturers and I encourage anyone who isn’t yet, to become an NZTE customer. You can do so here.

Daniel leads NZTE’s Manufacturing Export Customers team. He has held roles as trade commissioner in Europe and Australia, and NZTE private secretary to the Minister for Economic Development. Before joining NZTE, Daniel was operations manager at Global Fruits. 

The information and opinions within this column are not necessarily the views or opinions of Xpress Engineer NZ, NZ Engineering News or the parent company, Hayley Media.