Successful business growth is measured by an organization’s output over time – its results. But the inputs are the nutrients required to produce the right results. To gain the ability to grow, every company, regardless of size, must add five key business nutrients consistently and systemically:
Getting organized means knowing with certainty who is doing what and why. An org chart is a leader’s visionary leadership tool. It is a graphical view of the organization’s current and future needs for growth – the positions responsible for specific results (not tasks) now and in the future. In the early going, owners typically wear a lot of hats. Each growth plateau though, requires that an owner gives up more and more hats, relying on capable people, in order to concentrate on building the business infrastructure vs doing the more of the actual day-to-day work.
Building the infrastructure is the hard work of leadership; getting the right people (excellent character and attitudes), in the right seats (positions on the org chart), and doing the right things (achieving specific, measured results). This takes focused attention and time. Excellent business outcomes are a function of the inputs, most important of which are well-organized people and great leadership!
The Infrastructure of an enduring organization is its foundation. But most leaders assume way too much. Structural integrity doesn’t happen randomly.
Your Core-Four is your business foundation. It is comprised of 1) Core Values, what you and your organization stand for, 2) Vision, where exactly you are going, 3) Mission, why you are going there, and 4) Goals, what winning looks like. Empirical data has shown time and time again that winning companies across all industries have built on the firm foundation of clear and cohesive core values, vision, mission and goals. Do you and your people know without hesitation what those are?
In their excellent study of successful teams, Tribal Leadership, Dave Logan and colleagues describe it this way: “An entire company that sees values as its bible …can move quickly, grow, and remain remarkably united”. They add that as a result, these unique organizations advance to levels of competence above and beyond competitors (they call it stage four growth) and possess the uncommon ability to unite people toward a common cause. That translates to competitive advantage and a gateway to growth!
Going the same place not together never works. Committed leaders have to see that business growth starts with personal growth – the ability to see how we contribute to our own problems. What a remarkable and refreshing exercise – to learn how to get out of our own way so others can contribute and excel, all for the greater good and benefit of the whole. The absence of inclusiveness stifles an organization’s ability to produce the best outcomes.
We are leaders because we believe in ourselves and our ability to make good decisions. That mindset though, can lead to top-down thinking, subordinating the valuable intellectual capital of others. What’s worse, a top-down mindset frustrates and even alienates good people.
Organizational growth first requires individual growth and the leadership discipline of inclusion. That means becoming skilled at listening! The skill of listening to and affirming others’ ideas, thoughts and contributions affirms their significance as valuable human beings and co-leaders. This impactful act of leadership fosters congruence – the common ground of problem solving and conflict resolution.
Leaders who advocate their ideas and perspectives without inviting, and carefully considering, countering and even contradictory input from their teams, devalue and demotivate them. When people (especially co-leaders) find themselves incapable of being heard, potential for growth goes down.
The heartbeat of thriving organizations is the rhythm of productive meetings. Unfortunately, most of us stink at holding good meetings. As Patrick Lencioni notes in his compelling book Death by Meeting, “The hard truth is, bad meetings almost always lead to bad decisions, which is the best recipe for mediocrity.” Meetings are costly. But good meetings are profitable! So, what constitutes a “good” meeting? One word can suffice: transparency. To have transparency is to have an environment of provocative problem solving, where everyone contributes with assurance of safety – the confidence that uncomfortable and even disruptive ideas can be brought to the table without fear of repercussion.
In Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek has noted the importance of safety as a key nutrient of exceptional, problem solving organizations: “And when a leader embraces their responsibility to care for people instead of caring for numbers, then people will follow, solve problems and see to it that that leader’s vision comes to life the right way, a stable way and not the expedient way.” Meetings are only “good” when complex problems are getting solved. Meetings aren’t agendas and discussions. Productive meetings, while controlled and well-planned, should be anticipated with open arms by a staff that has been prepared to contribute, debate and even argue until the best solutions are found and implemented.
Yes, there it is again, that confounding word: accountability. How does a leader actually get people to be accountable? Answer: you don’t. That may come as a surprise for many readers, but truth be told, accountability has to be chosen. The trick lies in recognizing that for people to choose to be accountable, a leader must first foster an environment where it can happen. Jim Collins has noted that “True leadership only exists if people follow when they have the freedom not to”. Such an impactful statement yet so frequently misunderstood.
Be clear about what you want, but, at the same time, treat people like your most important assets – because they are. And when people know there are clear parameters for behavior and performance that will be enforced, and have the assurance from a leader that they are valued, the environment for accountability to be chosen is present.
To gain new perspective and overcome your growth hurdles, take our Leadership Impact assessment here. You will be challenged to consider your personal growth potential and, perhaps, do a little soul searching about how you are perceived as a leader.
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Legacy Business Leaders is a business coaching and leadership training firm that works globally with builders and remodelers to re-chart their goals, learn key business disciplines and capitalize on the Legacy Process for success and long-term profitability. They can be reached at the email above or by phone at 330.470.1300.