Recently I attended an event in London which involved some short talks from leading business and academic figures trying to address the growth challenge and practical way. What follows is some of the thoughts of Sir Charlie Mayfield (John Lewis Partnership), Phil Smith (Cisco), Tony Danker (Be the Business), Professor Veronica Hope Hailey (Bath University) and Hosein Khajeh-Hosseiny (Philanthropist & McKinsey). Some of the notes I took you look back and say they are hardly revolutionary, but if you are in the thick of it then having someone highlight it could be the difference you need.
The issues in growth can be identified as psychological and technical readiness. Being able to identify these is the kernel of these two elements overlaps, commitment. Failure to commit fully at start up would have seen failure, why would it be any different when scaling. Whether that means commitment psychologically to a challenge or technically to the next opportunity put everything into it. From a psychological position that will also require courage, Winston Churchill is quoted as saying “Fear is a reaction, courage is a decision” that is most certainly true while endeavouring to scale. Candor, that ability to be honest, is a vital element, with yourself, your colleagues, your customers and with your family.
Technically readiness and that commitment to a new opportunity or improve a current process while vital having built pockets of greatness in the business or commitments. This was primarily highlighted by Jim Collins in his 2001 book “Good to Great” where he advocated that at all levels of a business or organisation creating a culture of being willing to take action to develop or address issues was a key element of growing any business.
A well worn path, as you grow your organisation this can often become lost or diluted and direction lost. This may seem elementary but without taking time to refresh and refocus on the vision we can quickly veer off course.
- Clear vision means seeing and grabbing the next opportunity
- Moving out of your comfort zone to maintain the edge you have developed
- Knowing what your customers wants and needs
- A willingness to do things differently commercially or through collaboration
Imperative of Empowement
Often the reason businesses stagnate and don’t move to the next level is that we see the business and everything associated with it as a place of fear and risk, a place of task rather than of passion. That permeates the organisation that it stagnates creativity and innovation, team members and leaders alike no longer get the opportunity to discover what you are good or bad at. They no longer see the business as a place to fulfil their passions and develop.
Empowerment is vital in the modern business environment, technology is changing the workplace and the world, greater power lies in the individual and not in top down structures. Coupled with this the expectations and definition of what work itself is changing and therefore empowering those we work with can make a real difference.
Share knowledge and learning, it will amaze you what you get in return. Enable team members to grow, kill the command and control structures. Show purpose in the workplace, does the business have one?
Be a Better Leader
Easier said than done, however it is an essential element of developing and sustaining any business or organisation. As the Institute of Directors Leadership & Management Ambassador in Northern Ireland I would urge you to get on board, this is our purpose. If you are a member our professional development will help you with this, take a look at our digital academy, there is lots of bitesize bits of knowledge and wisdom. At the heart of being a better leader is trust, if your team, customers, stakeholders cannot trust you all else will be wasted. Veronica Hope Hailey summed that up perfectly – trust in ability, benevolence, integrity and predictability. A great list to support being a better leader, takes time to build, but just a moment to shatter.