4 Essential Keys to Leadership for Fast-Growth Companies

 

Even businesses with the most growth potential will encounter challenges and have difficult decisions to make on the way to success. What’s the difference between those which maneuver successfully and those who get tangled up in the chaos? Leadership.

Every successful business will outgrow the systems and processes that have served them well. As the staff size increases and client needs grow, the business needs to make a decision. Should a business choose to stay the current course, it could be trying to stuff 10 pounds of potatoes into a five-pound bag. Once that occurs, customer service begins to slide, consumer preferences shift elsewhere and growth takes a backseat to damage control—possibly even survival. As an owner or executive, you know you’ve reached that point when:

  • Costs rise
  • Customer dissatisfaction begins to rise
  • Everyone scrambles with no clear responsibilities
  • You no longer can guide or direct every employee on your team
  • You can no longer obtain reports or data you need on business performance
  • It seems to take far more people to get the same amount of work done that you previously managed efficiently
  • It takes far longer to get products and services to clients/customers 

Companies that choose a new path pursue development and deployment of a more mature operating model—one that includes the kinds of systems and processes that enable fast-track growth, rather than hinder it. Without these elements, the business simply won’t scale.

Many businesses operate in reaction mode—they’re so busy trying to get widgets out the door that they don’t think about structure or organization, let alone formal operating models. That’s a mistake, because an updated and customized operating model is specifically designed to transition fast-growth companies from reaction mode to a more conscious, proactive and sustainable way of doing things.

The benefits are significant:

  • Increased organizational agility and ability to respond to clients/customers
  • Increased profitability
  • Improved customer service, satisfaction and demand
  • Higher levels of employee engagement
  • Cost efficiency
  • Greater insight into business performance
  • Necessary capacity to innovate and understand customers on a deeper level

An operating model is a representation of how a business structures itself, seeks to drive value for its clients and customers and minimizes the crises of the business life cycle. All operating models for fast-growth companies begin by first addressing leadership.

Leadership is a broad term, and means many things to many people in many contexts. Yet, when it applies to instituting systems and processes for fast-growth companies, leadership includes several key components:

A clear mission and vision. Mission is all about the impact that your business endeavors to make—i.e., why does it exist, and how will the world be different because it exists? Vision is all about where the business is headed—i.e., what we envision this business becoming. Bill Gates had the singular vision of a computer on every desktop, and Microsoft was structured largely around achieving that vision. Amazon began as an online bookstore, but Jeff Bezos’ vision encompassed so much more than just book sales. That vision gave Jeff and his team a clear roadmap (or signpost… more on that later) to follow.

Core values. Core values depict how the business behaves. How do the employees act when the owner, an executive or the boss is not present? A written set of core values will address these questions.

This is critical, because when you as the owner can no longer interact daily with every employee, your business’ core values allow employees – throughout a single facility or in multiple locations – to know where you’re going as a business, why you’re headed in that direction, how to interact with customers and employees, and what behavior is expected throughout the journey.

Communications. Effective communication, both written and verbal, allows a business leader to articulate the mission, vision and core values. You know you have effective communications when employees can articulate key messages clearly without coaching or prompting.

Engagement and empowerment. Successful leaders use communications and engagement techniques to rally employees to their vision, bring the core values, mission and vision to life, and create accountability for the successful realization of the mission and vision.

For questions on business leadership, please contact Edward Ryan, CPA at 703.652.1124 or please feel free to leave us a message below.

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Material discussed in this article is meant to provide general information and should not be acted on without professional advice tailored to your firm’s individual needs.



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