“While you argue the present versus the past, I am making the future.”
This quote comes from power hungry politician Frank Underwood on the Netflix original series ‘House of Cards’, which just released season 3 on February 27. For those of you who are devoted bingers, you’ve seen Underwood manipulate his way from House majority Whip to President of the United States. His leadership style may not be exemplary in the real world of business; however, his skill set is defined. One skill for sure—looking past his manipulation and skewed business practices—is Underwood’s ingenious sense of Business Acumen.
We define business acumen as an in-depth understanding of how a business works, how it makes money, and how strategies and decisions impact financial, operational, and sales results.
Here are 3 business acumen takeaways from Frank Underwood:
- Frank Underwood understands how the business works It is pretty obvious—Underwood understands “the business” of his business. Because of that knowledge, he is able to align his decisions to impact the bottom line—or in his case, his success leading the nation. Leaders and Managers with a clear understanding not only of how the business works, but also how it sustains profitability, can figure out how their contribution can positively impact the bottom line.
- Frank Underwood makes decisions with the big-picture in mind When it comes to big-picture thinking, Underwood is a visionary. He thinks big and makes small gains toward his future goals. Season 1 and 2 showed Underwood’s way of thinking—he always makes his decisions from the big-picture lens of President rather than from the lens of Whip. Business Acumen allows leaders and managers to engage in big-picture thinking and to understand the organization’s financial and strategic issues—the relationship between actions and consequences—within a holistic context. They are able to see how their decisions impact the entire organization, not just their department.
- Frank Underwood is ahead of the competition If you don’t think you have competition, think again. Marketplaces are flooded with new companies every day. To keep from drowning, leaders and managers must stay ahead of the competition. Underwood is always ahead of competition by understanding his “customers” and the “Marketplace.” Business acumen is a skill allowing you to differentiate yourself, especially if you are a sales professional in today’s world. By understanding your business, and the business of your customers, you are able to gain a competitive advantage. Underwood says, “For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: hunt or be hunted.”
Business Acumen is a skill extending beyond simple financial literacy. It is a way of thinking—a CEO vantage point. If you don’t have business acumen as a competency in your learning and development, now is the time to get it going. Act with urgency like Underwood would…
“You seem far too relaxed. You shouldn’t be.” —Frank Underwood