GrowthMine http://www.growthmine.com Fri, 05 Jun 2015 07:19:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.10 GrowthMine no GrowthMine http://www.growthmine.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://www.growthmine.com People Grow Businesses http://www.growthmine.com/people-grow-businesses/ http://www.growthmine.com/people-grow-businesses/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 07:09:56 +0000 http://www.growthmine.com/?p=7949 People Grow BusinessesBusiness growth starts and ends with people. Success depends on the will and skill of people at every level of an organization. Sure, sometimes growth efforts start at the top, but it’s impossible to sustain growth without the zeal, efforts, and imagination of people throughout the organization.]]>

The impetus for growth doesn’t always come from the top. In smart organizations, people know that innovation can start and spread from anywhere – the top, bottom, or middle of an organization.

People Grow Businesses

Business growth starts and ends with people. Success depends on the will and skill of people at every level of an organization. Business excellence isn’t just something that senior executives know about and understand. Sure, sometimes growth efforts start at the top, but it’s impossible to sustain growth without the zeal, efforts, and imagination of people throughout the organization.

Growing a business requires constantly reevaluating the kinds of talent you have, need, and should hire and develop. And one of the biggest obstacles to continuous growth is the lack of talent needed to run and grow the business. Continuous growth demands a conscious decision to develop deeper and, especially, broader “bench strength.”

Too many organizations stumble because they devote too little effort to helping people combine their talents, to developing the skills of the people they hire, and to providing incentives for team players. They ignore the fact that weaving together people with diverse knowledge and skills is required for team and organizational effectiveness.

Hiring the right people is crucial for propelling growth, but it isn’t enough to collect a lot of talented people and hope they can figure out how to work well together. Having talented and motivated employees doesn’t mean that exceptional performance will follow. Even the best talent requires nurturing, mentoring, and training.

There must be a deep devotion to growing and grooming your people. By shunning shortcuts when it comes to developing the people who will power your expansion, you will infuse the business with the will, skill, and spirit to move your business forward.

Shared Accountability

Business growth depends on bringing in the right talent and having people who feel compelled to act in the organization’s best interests – and who move one another to act that way too. Every organization that aims to have continuous growth needs both talent and accountability.

Just talent or accountability alone isn’t enough: without healthy doses of both, you’ll never have a great organization. Continuous growth companies have an unwavering commitment to putting talented people in every position who take personal ownership for doing great work that helps the company, not just themselves. The result is an organization full of people who all feel compelled to do great work and help everyone around them do great work too. When a business is full of people who all feel accountable to their colleagues and customers, they feel obligated to give their best effort and make personal sacrifices for the greater good. Shared accountability turns people’s attention toward concerns that are bigger than themselves, ties the organization together, and it’s infectious.

But accountability cannot be mandated. People wake up every day and decide whether they will give it or not. Even when you hire the right people, the experiences and training you provide are crucial for spreading the beliefs and behaviors that create accountability.

The bottom line: people make the business and the business makes the people.

Are you as devoted to growing your people as you are to growing your business?

 

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The Fountain of Youth for Business Growth http://www.growthmine.com/fountain-youth-business-growth/ http://www.growthmine.com/fountain-youth-business-growth/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 06:10:58 +0000 http://www.growthmine.com/?p=7942 The Fountain of Youth for Business GrowthTo stay vibrant, the organization must be in a constant state of renewal and in a continual state of transformation. You must constantly look for signs your existing business model needs changing, by understanding shifting market conditions, competitive threats, customers’ ever-changing needs, new technologies, and so on.]]>

Sooner or later, even the most successful businesses run out of room to grow. Over time, the organization’s original products inevitably will begin to mature and will no longer produce the rate of growth the company needs. For sustainable growth, you must develop and implement a strategic plan for locating new growth opportunities while the existing business is still growing, well before it begins to stall or decline. To ensure longevity, a portfolio of growth initiatives is needed to produce new revenue streams and maintain competitiveness.

This means transforming existing markets, expanding to new markets, improving existing products, developing new products, creating new businesses, making acquisitions, forming strategic alliances, launching an IPO, and so on. In other words, your organization will simultaneously be developing and launching new businesses while managing the existing business.

The Fountain of Youth

Long-term success requires continuous growth, change, and reinvention. This is the fountain of youth for a growth-oriented company. To stay vibrant, the organization must be in a constant state of renewal and in a continual state of transformation. You must constantly look for signs your existing business model needs changing, by understanding shifting market conditions, competitive threats, customers’ ever-changing needs, new technologies, and so on.

“Hot” companies often cool off after their initial growth because they are too focused on harvesting their success to launch new growth initiatives. As a result, when the current business slows – as it always does – they’re not prepared to replace it.

Great companies are not one-hit wonders. Instead, they are able to continuously repeat the cycle of success to avoid any lags in growth. These companies understand that the only real predictor of their future success is steady growth. Short and even long-term bursts mean almost nothing. Growth, repeated over time, achieves lasting results.

Bigger and Better

The biggest challenge of a growth company is staying a growth company. Just as it’s possible for any company to achieve breakthrough performance, it’s equally possible for a highly successful company to, without realizing it, slide into mediocrity or worse.

Every company sits on the verge of irrelevance. Successful growth isn’t simply a matter of growing by doing more of the same. It isn’t enough to keep repeating what created the original success. Making it to a certain level of growth does not mean the organization has arrived, but that it is still growing and improving.

Continuous growth companies get bigger AND better. Great growth companies are restless. They have cultures of relentless constant improvement, which is fundamental to continual growth. Why? Because constant improvement requires consistently challenging the way you do things (no matter how successful you are). Successful growth companies have a healthy paranoia about success, driven by the nagging feeling that things are never quite good enough. They never rest on their laurels and are clear about their strengths and weaknesses.

Smart companies never leave well enough alone. They are continually implementing better ways of thinking and acting. They are continually eliminating faulty assumptions. They are continually strengthening and improving all corners of their organizations. And they are continually finding new ways to meet customer needs so that the cycle of growth continues.

Is your business getting bigger and better?

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Is Your Business Growing Too Fast? http://www.growthmine.com/business-growing-fast/ http://www.growthmine.com/business-growing-fast/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 07:21:01 +0000 http://www.growthmine.com/?p=7924 Is Your Business Growing Too Fast?As the complexity of the business grows, the problems begin to pile up. Each new sale seems to make things worse. More balls are dropped. More mistakes are made. More fires are being fought. More customers are unhappy. More profits are lost. Whatever way it appears, more and more things are going wrong.]]>

Most businesses that survive the start-up stage are ready to grow – and there is plenty of room to grow. Companies just beginning to grow have almost no market share, which makes attaining big percentage increases in revenue growth relatively easy to achieve.

Everything in a young business revolves around one thing – sales. The company says yes to almost every opportunity and makes big promises. No job is too tough, no request too unreasonable, no customization impossible, and no deadline too unrealistic. This responsiveness and flexibility allows early growth companies to compete and win against much larger and more established companies.

Fueled by their initial success, fast growing companies think they can succeed at almost anything that comes their way. And they often do. They don’t see problems, only opportunities.

The sales efforts get all the attention, at the expense of everything else. Early growth companies have an insatiable appetite for cash, sales, and results. There is nothing abnormal about sales being the driving force in a young company – it should be. Sales revenue is the lifeblood of a growing organization because it provides the fuel for rapid growth.

Complexity Creeps In

But problems in a business are an unavoidable consequence of growth. As a business grows, it immediately becomes more complex. And the bigger a business becomes, the more complex it inevitably will be.

Without realizing it, the simple business becomes a very different business.

As the complexity of the business grows, the problems begin to pile up. Each new sale seems to make things worse. More balls are dropped. More mistakes are made. More fires are being fought. More customers are unhappy. More profits are lost. Whatever way it appears, more and more things are going wrong.

Because of the rise in complexity, the business has reached the point where continuing to do more of the same is no longer working. The issue of course is that a young business doesn’t have many systems or processes. Everything is improvised, and that improvisation only works up to a certain point.

Slow Down – Temporarily

You must take your foot off of the accelerator long enough to allow the rest of the business to catch up. The lack of structure, systems, and processes will slowly kill your fast-growing business, making it increasingly inefficient and unproductive.

It’s simply not possible to gain control and maintain breakneck speed. Failing to slow down ensures your business is in for a series of train wrecks. As complexity rises, your company will desperately need some systems and processes to control the chaos that will eventually overwhelm you, your business, and your team. The whole purpose of systems and processes is to allow a business to effectively deal with complexity.

The proper kinds of systems and processes, introduced in the right amount, at the right time, actually help the organization grow faster. Companies that resist the need to make these changes will slowly be engulfed by chaos.

As a business gets bigger and more complex, the days of ad hoc processes and informal controls must end. Adding systems and processes to the organization does not mean eliminating flexibility and adaptability. It means a more disciplined, systematic, and process-based approach to getting things done, one that matches the scale and scope of a grown-up organization.

Once you’ve introduced the right kinds of systems and processes, put your foot back on the accelerator and fly down the road.

Is your business headed for a high-speed crash?

 

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When It’s Time for a Business to Stand on Its Own http://www.growthmine.com/time-business-stand/ http://www.growthmine.com/time-business-stand/#comments Mon, 17 Feb 2014 07:54:07 +0000 http://www.growthmine.com/?p=7916 When a Business Must Stand On Its OwnFor a business to reach the highest levels of growth, profitability, and success, there must be a shift from dependence to independence. When a company is young, the founder is in total control, but as it grows and matures the self-interests of the founder can no longer trump the needs of the business. The organization needs sovereignty. The challenge is to forge the organization into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.]]>

For a business to reach the highest levels of growth, profitability, and success, there must be a shift from dependence to independence. When a company is young, the founder is in total control, but as it grows and matures the self-interests of the founder can no longer trump the needs of the business. The organization needs sovereignty. The challenge is to forge the organization into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

The founder must recognize that the business has become bigger than he is. It needs a life of its own. In the early stages, decision-making and the entrepreneurial spirit are personalized with the leader or leaders of the company. To move forward, decision-making and the entrepreneurial spirit must become institutionalized or systematized to allow the organization to act objectively, in the best interests of the business, independent of any individual.

Recognize the Need for Organizational Sovereignty

The same level of control that was applied by the founder in the early stages of the company’s growth will begin to suffocate it when it becomes more complex. All businesses are limited by the capabilities of its leaders. Intuitively, most founders know that they need help managing a bigger, more complex organization, but they have a difficult time changing their style to fit the new reality.

As a company grows, the founder can no longer carry the responsibilities of CEO and sales manager, product developer, marketer, and bill collector. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to manage everything alone. As a business gets bigger, the founder must learn to delegate and decentralize authority without giving up all control.

Let Go Without Losing Control

As a company grows, it is essential that the founder move away from a Lone Ranger style of management. At a certain point, the business will outgrow the founder’s ability to manage it alone. Founders must learn to share power by delegating authority without giving up total control or becoming a progressively larger obstacle to the organization’s development. To make the successful transition from a small business to a larger one, founders must put the needs of the organization above their own egos. The founder must allow the organization to stand on its own.

It’s hard for hands-on leaders, particularly those that have built the company from the ground up, to let go of day-to-day decision making. But they must let go and move into a more strategic role to help lead the company to the next level of growth. This new focus will require more leading and less doing. The founder needs to become a strategist, communicator, coach, and team builder.

Stop Being Chief of Answers

In the earlier stages, the founder had all the vision, ideas, and answers. In large part, the creativity of the founder drove the growth. But when a business becomes more complex, the founder must admit that she no longer has all the answers and that more and sometimes better answers will come from others. Synergy comes from having many people aggressively searching for new opportunities to achieve the shared vision.

Delegate

Delegation is how knowledge and thinking is transferred from the founder to the rest of the organization. Young companies have huge unrealized potential because they have not yet delegated decision-making authority. Top down decision making was appropriate and necessary in the early stages of growth, but eventually that level of control will stifle the growth and development of the organization.

Delegating can be difficult because it requires a transfer of knowledge and thinking to other people. Even though it seems much easier – and definitely quicker – for the founder to make decisions himself, it is critical that time is taken to give direction and transfer knowledge. This enables the founder’s vision and leadership to be transferred to the organization.

Early on, the founder is the glue that holds everything together. But as a business becomes more complex things begin to fall apart because the founder can’t keep it all together. The organization needs to develop its own form of glue so that it is no longer dependent on the founder for success.

Is it time for you to let go?

 

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What Winning Companies Do to Stay on Top http://www.growthmine.com/winning-companies-stay-top/ http://www.growthmine.com/winning-companies-stay-top/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 06:50:02 +0000 http://www.growthmine.com/?p=7797 What Winning Companies Do To Stay On TopSuccessful companies aren’t perfect – no company is – they continually face internal and external challenges. But these companies have reached a point where they can effectively respond to those challenges. They understand their success; they’ve nurtured it, scaled it, repeated it, and sustained it. In fact, these businesses have a pattern of success firmly etched into their organizational DNA. Here are just a few of the strengths they use to stay on top:]]>

Successful companies aren’t perfect – no company is – they continually face internal and external challenges. But these companies have reached a point where they can effectively respond to those challenges. They understand their success; they’ve nurtured it, scaled it, repeated it, and sustained it. In fact, these businesses have a pattern of success firmly etched into their organizational DNA. Here are just a few of the strengths they use to stay on top:

Sense of Urgency

Successful companies are leery of their success. Winning companies take immediate action on the critical issues, opportunities, and threats facing the business. They don’t wait until next week, next month, next quarter, or next year. They make real progress every day on the issues that are most important to success and winning.

Urgency is what drives a great company to look outward for new opportunities for success and threats to the survival of the business.

Continual Reinvention

Reinvention is the fountain of youth for all successful companies. To stay vibrant, winning businesses are in a constant state of renewal and in a continual state of transformation. The definition of the organization’s business model is continually challenged so that it never becomes captive to one way of doing things. A successful company is constantly examining long held assumptions and letting go of closely held methods, products, or processes that are no longer working.

Every organization sits on the verge of irrelevance. To survive, a business must be able to change as fast as change itself. A smart company changes before it gets into a situation that forces change. A company stays on top by having flexibility in its DNA.

Growth Mindset

Success in a winning organization isn’t dependent on any single individual. The organization as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Entrepreneurial spirit, vision, creativity, risk-taking, and initiative are fully institutionalized.

Everyone is responsible for growth and innovation. It is not the exclusive domain of the “creative” folks. The best companies don’t waste any of the imagination or intellectual power from anywhere in the organization. Growth and innovation are systemic.

Decision Making

Great companies have appropriate and unambiguous decision rights that are completely transparent. It is clear who needs to be consulted before a decision is made, who has the authority to make a decision, who needs to know about the decision, and who is accountable for the outcome. There is nothing to hide and nowhere to hide it.

Successful organizations don’t just make better decisions; they act on the decisions that are made. When decisions are made they don’t sit in a stack alongside other decisions waiting for something to happen – it gets done. Because the appropriate levels of the organization were involved in the process, from the beginning, they are committed to seeing it through. Issues are discussed, debated and decided. This is a far different dynamic from having decisions made in the vacuum of the ivory tower and dropped down on the people who are expected to make it happen on the ground. The questions of what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and how it is to be done all happens simultaneously.

Ownership and Accountability

The best organizations never point out the window to blame external conditions; they look in the mirror and know they are responsible for their results. A sense of ownership signifies the belief employees have that they have a responsibility for their jobs that extends well beyond the accountability described in a job description. Employees of winning companies feel a high degree of responsibility for the success of the business.

People understand that what they do individually, and as a team, influences the success of the whole. They are empowered to make a difference. People are not looking to their managers to make all the decisions and have all the answers. Managers and team members are dependent on each other for success. Teams are encouraged to think and act for themselves because a high level of trust and respect is evident among them. This creates a culture where people act in the best interest of the company. They make tough decisions because it’s the right thing to do for the company, even though it might be difficult individually.

What are some of the key traits you see in winning companies?

 

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The Leading Killer of Successful Businesses http://www.growthmine.com/leading-killer-successful-businesses/ http://www.growthmine.com/leading-killer-successful-businesses/#comments Mon, 10 Feb 2014 06:53:26 +0000 http://www.growthmine.com/?p=7535 The-Leading-Killer-of-Successful-BusinessesThe shift from growth to decline is almost imperceptible at first, particularly by those inside an organization. After all, the organization still looks and feels successful. But the signs are there if you know what to look for. Slowly, the business has lost the creativity, risk taking, initiative, and flexibility that made it successful in the first place.]]>

The shift from growth to decline is almost imperceptible at first, particularly by those inside an organization. After all, the organization still looks and feels successful. But the signs are there if you know what to look for. Slowly, the business has lost the creativity, risk taking, initiative, and flexibility that made it successful in the first place.

Decline is a disease. Left untreated, it gets progressively worse and ends in death. In the early stages of decline, it’s harder to detect and easier to cure. In the latter stages, it becomes easier to detect and harder to cure. Like any disease, decline can grow inside an organization while it still looks strong, healthy, and vibrant on the outside. That’s what makes decline so scary. Once the symptoms become obvious, you are already in trouble.

Decline begins when everyone least expects it – at the pinnacle of success. The initial signs of decline don’t show up in financial reports. In fact, when it begins, most companies are growing, have large cash reserves, and strong financial statements. Momentum carries the organization forward. When the signs appear in financial statements, decline is already well under way.

When an organization starts to decline, the first signs appear as changes in the attitudes, views, opinions, and behaviors of its leaders. The leaders slow down and become comfortable. The organization no longer pushes itself to do more. There are reduced expectations for growth. Open and honest debate is less common. Change is avoided. Politics become an issue. How things are done begins to matter more than what is being done. The status quo is accepted – people begin to accept things as they are.

Businesses entering decline have been feeling confident and content for some time. Complacency and even arrogance set in. The organization develops an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. It becomes difficult to generate enthusiasm and excitement for new ideas. The organization begins to shift away from exploring new opportunities toward maintaining what they worked so hard to gain.

Gradually, the business begins the slow march towards death, losing touch with the market and its customers and becoming internally, rather than externally focused. ROI becomes more important than R&D. As time passes, the entrepreneurial types, the visionaries, and risk takers all begin to leave. The remaining employees, who either cannot or will not see the need for change, allow the business to slowly sink under the weight of its own inertia.

How Does a Business Get Here?

In theory, successful businesses should be able to remain so indefinitely. In practice, the slide into decline happens for understandable, but unfortunate reasons.

When a company is growing rapidly, it adds systems and processes to help control the chaos. After all, the whole purpose of systems and process is to help an organization deal more effectively with complexity. But when a business becomes over-managed and over-systematized, it slows down, loses flexibility, and focuses inward instead of outward.

An over-managed organization becomes rigid and bureaucratic. Getting things done becomes a difficult and convoluted process.

Filling out forms and endless analysis become more important than productivity and actual results. While management still calls for growth, they are increasingly more concerned with how something is done rather than what is being done. Is the process flowchart being followed? Have the steps for this and that been completed? The business seems like it has been reduced to a series of checklists.

Loss of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is the driving force behind the company’s success. But it doesn’t take long before the driving force is lost. During rapid growth, systems and processes provide an environment for entrepreneurship to thrive. In a declining company, systems and processes begin to slowly choke entrepreneurial activity to death.

Recovering From Decline

To turnaround a business sliding into decline, entrepreneurship must return as the lifeblood of the company. And that means the organization must focus on hiring and developing entrepreneurial (or intrapreneurial) employees and managers.

Creating new growth requires completely different mindsets, skills, and strategies than those necessary for managing the current business. Launching new initiatives into uncertain territory is fundamentally different from running a well-established business.

All of this requires that you actively shape the corporate culture to amplify the entrepreneurial qualities of innovation, flexibility, risk-taking, and initiative. It’s critical that these are not drowned out by the increasing noise associated with the size, scale, and scope of a large company.

You must do everything possible to stimulate and support entrepreneurship as a mindset and cultural component throughout the organization.

Remaining Balanced

Systems and processes aren’t really the problem. The problem is the loss of the delicate balance between control and flexibility.

Business success rests on the ability to balance the capabilities necessary to excel at both growth and execution. Companies that consistently grow have figured out how and where to enable and promote entrepreneurial behaviors while, at the same time, maintaining systems and processes that allow for scalability, consistency, and profitability.

Any imbalances need to be addressed while accepting that the tension between managing an organization for growth and managing it for control never entirely disappears. Growth companies don’t try to eliminate this natural tension – they manage it every single day.

Does your business have any signs of decline?

 

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The Toughest Part of Being a Growth Company CEO http://www.growthmine.com/toughest-part-growth-company-ceo/ http://www.growthmine.com/toughest-part-growth-company-ceo/#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2014 09:58:00 +0000 http://www.growthmine.com/?p=7431 The-Toughest-Part-of-Being-a-CEOBy far the toughest skill for a CEO to learn is the ability to manage his own psychology. The technical aspects of running a business – creating systems and processes, designing structure, developing people, and so on – are relatively straightforward skills to understand and master. But growth is also psychological – you must mentally and emotionally prepare yourself to change as the business changes.]]>

By far the toughest skill for a CEO to learn is the ability to manage his own psychology. The technical aspects of running a business – creating systems and processes, designing structure, developing people, and so on – are relatively straightforward skills to understand and master. But growth is also psychological – you must mentally and emotionally prepare yourself to change as the business changes.

Psychology Matters

Psychology isn’t something a lot of CEOs openly discuss. But the psychology of the leader is everything in a business, and it’s time to start talking about it. In fact, I believe that 80% of the success or failure of a business is tied to the growth of the CEO. Ultimately, the psychology or mindset of an organization’s leader determines whether a company reaches its full potential or not.

Business growth is simply not possible without change. And change is mentally challenging. One of the primary reasons that companies have so much trouble as they attempt to scale is the continuous change that the company must undergo as it grows and develops.

The key difference between successful and unsuccessful companies is the ability of the leader, company, and management team to adapt to the inevitable changes that come along with growth.

As your business grows, you must be able to identify how your organization is changing, and what it will take for you to be effective in each new situation.

How well you adapt to the changing needs of your company as it grows will determine your long-term success. If you do so successfully, the company will continue to thrive. However, if you do not adapt successfully, the company will experience significant challenges – regardless of how strong it appears at this moment.

The CEOs of companies that aren’t reaching their potential don’t intend to be poor leaders, have dysfunctional teams, or create ineffective organizations. No company sails smoothly to success without some difficulties. Building, growing, and running a business is a bumpy ride. But the truth is, most of the things that go wrong can and should be avoided.

The Struggle

CEOs struggle when they lack the knowledge of how to avoid the pitfalls, how to think through the issues, how to operate the business, and how to systematically manage growth. Leaders who don’t adapt to the changing circumstances of a growing business magnify all of these problems.

Even if you know what you’re doing, things are still going to go wrong. Business growth is a complex and difficult process that is a tremendous management challenge. As a company grows and gets bigger, success can quickly turn into a painful and overwhelming experience. The complexity of running a bigger and bigger business will test your emotional limits.

There are more people, customers, products, management layers, locations, competition, and risks to manage – there’s more EVERYTHING – all of which creates complexity.

Eventually things start to break down. There are fires you’re constantly trying to put out. Resources are stretched too thin. Some people lack the skills to keep pace with growing responsibilities. Poor communication and coordination leads to mistakes, inefficiencies, and a lack of focus. Quality slips and customers start to complain. Competitive pressure intensifies. Costs rise. And the number and difficulty of business decisions dramatically increase.

Growth puts a strain on everyone in an organization – particularly the CEO.

You may find that you struggle with a series of issues and decisions that you’ve never faced before. Over time, these distinct problems give rise to a broader sense that you are losing control. The behaviors that led to your previous success become less and less effective. You don’t see problems until they are burning out of control.

At times, you may experience feelings of loneliness and isolation. These feelings can set the stage for a sense of uncertainty, overwhelm, pain, and awkwardness.

There’s a reason people jump from the top floors of buildings, not the bottom.

Get a Grip

Business growth is a complex process involving personal, strategic, operational, and organizational challenges. The bigger a business gets, the more complex and difficult it becomes to manage.

You are going to be faced with situations you’ve never seen before. You will have to make gut-wrenching decisions – and live with the consequences.

There is no reason to feel the need to navigate your company’s growth through trial and error. Regardless of how it may seem, you aren’t in uncharted waters. Seek advice from those who have successfully guided companies through the challenges you face.

It may seem like you’re all alone – but you’re not. Although your company will grow in a way that is unique to your situation, growth itself presents a universal set of challenges that you can predict and prepare for.

Leading a growth-oriented company is tough work. You’re going to have to learn to lead the business you’re running today and the business it needs to become tomorrow. As a business grows, it must change beyond simply getting bigger – and the CEO must evolve with those changes.

Your mindset must change as your business changes. A growth company leader’s greatest challenge is to become the leader that her company needs through every stage of growth.

Are you managing your mindset?

 

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5 People Who Derail Your Meetings http://www.growthmine.com/5-people-derail-meetings/ http://www.growthmine.com/5-people-derail-meetings/#comments Mon, 03 Feb 2014 09:58:42 +0000 http://www.growthmine.com/?p=7389 5-People-Who-Derail-MeetingsWhen it comes to meetings, your own team is often its own worst enemy. Discussions get hijacked. Bad ideas fill whiteboards. Negative team members squash good ideas. Stronger team members dominate weaker ones. People wander off topic, cause decisions to be delayed, and act in any number of dysfunctional ways.]]>

When it comes to meetings, your own team is often its own worst enemy. Discussions get hijacked. Bad ideas fill whiteboards. Negative team members squash good ideas. Stronger team members dominate weaker ones. People wander off topic, cause decisions to be delayed, and act in any number of dysfunctional ways.

When you are the leader, there are certain personalities that can and will sabotage your meetings, if you allow them to. Recognize who they are and neutralize them to keep your agenda moving forward.

5 People Who Derail Meetings

1. The Dominator. A Dominator overvalues his point of view and influence. They disrupt discussions and bring their own agendas to the table. Dominators are the consummate salespeople, and have a way of grandstanding to command attention. Dominators need to be heard and either don’t understand or don’t care that an effective discussion requires that the points they make need to relate to all the other points being made.

Stop a Dominator in her tracks by acknowledging her point and then move quickly back to the current agenda item. If you don’t have a meeting agenda, then you’re going to get this behavior.

2. The Bully. A Bully will try to strong-arm the whole group into seeing it their way. Bullies speak loudly, interrupt, and attempt to speak for softer-spoken team members. Bullies are the ones in a meeting that are most apt to say something hurtful or offensive. They are insensitive, condescending, selfish, and immature. A Bully’s main objective is to win the argument, and he will use any tactic to do so.

To tame a Bully, never allow him to interrupt a discussion or use any abusive behavior. Ignoring a Bully’s behavior will only serve to encourage it.

3. The Divider. A Divider creates divisions within the team by seeking support for his viewpoint outside the meeting or starts parallel discussions during the meeting. A Divider is often silent during meetings and later undermines decisions. These people practice classic passive-aggressive behavior. Dividers don’t express their true opinions, or they may agree to something they have absolutely no intention of doing.

To stop a Divider from planning your demise, make a point of asking him questions during meetings to try to draw out his input.

4. The Pessimist. A Pessimist walks into a meeting with a negative attitude. Always. These are the naysayers and whatever you bring up, they will find reasons why it will never work. Pessimists are the ones that will wait until the entire team nears a decision and then blow the whole thing up with a series of major objections.

To keep a Pessimist from throwing a wrench in the works at the end of a meeting, set aside time early in the discussion for her to voice objections and opinions, and then shift gears to focus on making a decision.

5. The Sidetracker. A Sidetracker is the reason your 20-minute meeting is going to last an hour. They ramble, take discussions off track, go off on tangents, recount history, or delve into unnecessary detail. Sidetrackers can make good points, but it takes them forever to get there – they bury every tidbit in 10 minutes of nothing.

To stop a Sidetracker from taking the whole meeting to a far away place, ask her direct questions that cut directly to the heart of the matter. These people need to constantly be redirected.

Who are some of the meeting personalities you know?

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How to Spot a Business Disaster Waiting to Happen http://www.growthmine.com/spot-business-disaster-waiting-happen/ http://www.growthmine.com/spot-business-disaster-waiting-happen/#comments Fri, 31 Jan 2014 09:54:50 +0000 http://www.growthmine.com/?p=7374 How-to-Spot-a-Business-Disaster-Waiting-to-HappenA company may appear to be the picture of success, a company that all others would aspire to be. But your greatest fear shouldn’t be that you will have to compete with this company. Your greatest fear should be that you become this company. This company isn’t a model. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. It’s dying, and it doesn’t even know it.]]>

Many times it’s easy to spot a company that’s in the midst of failure. The moment you walk through the door, you can feel the absence of energy. Sales numbers are tumbling and profits are weak. People are spending more time looking for their next job than doing their current one. Rumors of the company’s demise run rampant. Finding solutions for the future take a backseat to placing blame for what’s happened in the past.

But there’s another company that doesn’t have any of these obvious signs of distress. Walk through these doors and you immediately feel a burst of energy. This company is a leader in its industry and playing at the top of its game. It has an extraordinary team that is committed to its vision. This is a company that almost anyone would want to work for. Sales are up every quarter. There is little tolerance for mistakes. From the mailroom to the boardroom, people are unusually proud of all they have accomplished. The company and its executives regularly receive all kinds of awards and recognition. As the king of the hill, their market position seems to insulate them from many outside threats. Every thing they touch seems to turn into gold.

This company appears to be the picture of success, a company that all others would aspire to be. But your greatest fear shouldn’t be that you will have to compete with this company. Your greatest fear should be that you become this company. This company isn’t a model. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. It’s dying, and it doesn’t even know it.

How could this happen?

Aren’t the features of this company the ones that all companies want to achieve? The answer is yes – to a certain degree. Developing these positive qualities to excess is a recipe for disaster. Why? Because this company has created an environment that rejects any information that might contradict the way it views reality.

Companies that develop these desirable qualities to excess are unable to adapt when the world changes.

When these companies reach a point where the things that used to work, the things that created success, don’t work anymore, they are frozen. Because they are so good at blocking out unwelcome information, they are blind to the fact that the company is already beginning to collapse around them. Managers often don’t have the information they need to chart a new course until it’s too late.

Success leaves clues, but failure leaves clues too. Here are three warning signs that signal doom for successful companies:

Three signs of impending doom

1. Success. The greatest threat to success is success itself. Leaders of successful companies are justifiably proud. After all, business publications, gurus, and polls have recognized them as number one at this or top 20 at that. But what begins as healthy pride can quickly become unhealthy arrogance. When the awards and recognition become part of the company’s identity, the behavior that made it successful in the first place begins to change. We’ve all heard the saying: “Don’t believe your own PR.” Unfortunately, successful companies often become legends in their own minds.

Every organization, no matter how successful, is vulnerable to decline. There is no law in nature that the most successful companies will inevitably remain so. Of the 500 companies that appeared on the first Fortune 500 in 1955, less than 70 are on the list today. Success often hides the fact that decline has already begun.

2. Vision carved in stone. When a company has an unshakable vision of who it is and where it’s going, the vision can create its own momentum. Sounds great, but here’s the catch: Over time the company begins to do things, not because they make good business sense, but because they align with the vision. This can morph into an irrational commitment and loyalty to a vision no one is willing to question. The more success a company has experienced in the past, the harder it is for that company to let go of the business model that made it successful.

The most destructive part of this extreme loyalty to a vision is that it prevents companies from hearing changes in customer expectations. These companies form a distorted view of reality where they believe that they know what their customers want better than the customer does. This is the attitude that caused RIM to stick to its guns, even though the iPhone provided clear evidence that customer expectations had changed.

3. Overly optimistic. When companies start to lose touch with reality because of an arrogant belief in their success and their company vision, they will likely develop an overly optimistic attitude. And no one wants to disrupt the overly optimistic atmosphere by being negative. Long held assumptions are never questioned, and decisions are rarely put on the table for debate. Critical information from inside and outside the company is suppressed.

Failures and mistakes are not tolerated, which only reinforces the natural inclination of many people to avoid being the bearer of bad news. When a company regularly assigns blame for mistakes, it makes it hard for people to speak up when they see a problem. Suppression of negative news was a direct contributor to the Challenger disaster that took the lives of seven crew members.

If companies like Kodak, RIM, and Circuit City—icons that once served as examples of excellence—can fall from their perch, then no business is immune. If companies like Nokia, AOL, and Blockbuster, once the unquestionable leaders in their industries, can fall from grace, then every organization should be suspicious about its own success.

Thoughts?

 

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Conflict is Good for Your Business http://www.growthmine.com/conflict-good-business/ http://www.growthmine.com/conflict-good-business/#comments Wed, 29 Jan 2014 09:25:31 +0000 http://www.growthmine.com/?p=7358 Conflict-is-Good-for-Your-BusinessIf you are going to be a leader, you are going to have to deal with conflict. It’s part of your job. If you can’t or won’t handle conflict in a straightforward and effective manner, then you shouldn’t be a leader. Dealing with conflict is one of the most critical abilities that determines the effectiveness of a leader, yet it is often one of the least developed skills.]]>

Businesses are natural creators of problems and conflict. Whenever you get a group of smart, talented, and passionate people together, there is going to be a certain degree of conflict.

If you are going to be a leader, you are going to have to deal with conflict. It’s part of your job. If you can’t or won’t handle conflict in a straightforward and effective manner, then you shouldn’t be a leader. Dealing with conflict is one of the most critical abilities that determines the effectiveness of a leader, yet it is often one of the least developed skills.

As much as you might like to avoid it, conflict is an unavoidable reality of the business world. In fact, conflict is a reality in almost all organizations. From boardrooms to classrooms conflict is lurking every day, whether you want to see it or not. The ability to identify it, understand it, and end it will make you a better, more trusted, and respected leader. The inability to do so will render you an impotent and ineffective leader.

We’ve all seen otherwise capable people fail under the leadership spotlight because they constantly avoided conflict. Ducking conflict avoids the personal conversations and difficult decisions that can easily become messy, emotional, and awkward. Ignoring conflict allows problems to fester to the point that they can bring an organization to its knees. Because the source of the conflict isn’t addressed, it gets worse. So even if the issues are eventually resolved, the trauma caused to individuals and to the organization is much greater than if the real problem had been dealt with in the first place.

There is a simple truth about conflict: It almost never resolves itself.

The Consequences

The desire to avoid conflict is human nature, but it represents one of the most significant obstacles to success for leaders and businesses. Avoiding conflict slows everything down and leads to bad decisions and unresolved problems. When conflict isn’t addressed, finger pointing, mistrust, misrepresentations, manipulations, misinterpretations, assumptions, accusations, frustration, bureaucracy, and a CYA mentality fill the void. An overly polite veneer often hides an organization consumed with internal politics, phoniness, gossip, and backstabbing. In organizational cultures where resolving conflict is the exception, unnecessary meetings, second-guessing, individual agendas, information hoarding, and high turnover are the rule.

Avoiding conflict exacts a heavy price: The things that need to be heard never are.

Conflict is Good for Business

It would be nice to think you can build a business and never face situations where there is disagreement and dissent – but that’s incredibly naïve. All lasting relationships – business and personal – need productive conflict in order to grow.

Unfortunately, conflict is considered taboo in many places, particularly in business. And the more stagnant a business is, the more likely you are to find leaders tying to avoid the kind of passionate debates that are essential to any great business.

Leaders that engage in productive conflict understand that the purpose is to arrive at the best possible solution, in the shortest amount of time. They discuss and resolve issues thoroughly, and even though their debates may be heated, there are no ill feelings or damage to any relationship. This allows them to confidently move on to tackle the next important issue.

However, to an outsider, the passion and emotion that occur in healthy debates could easily appear to be unhealthy arguments.

Trust

Trust lies at the heart of a high-performing team. Without it, getting things done is almost impossible.

Trust exists when people feel that they can be genuinely open and honest with one another. With no trust, conflict is all pain and no gain. Trust is the confidence between colleagues that everyone’s intentions are good, and there is no reason to be defensive or cautious.

When trust is missing, people won’t engage in an unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas – which is essential to dealing with conflict.

Engage Conflict or Fear Conflict

There is a tremendous contrast between leaders that promote and engage conflict and those that fear and avoid it. Walk into any meeting, in any company, in any industry and it won’t take long to recognize the difference.

Leaders and teams that avoid conflict have boring meetings because no one wants to “rock the boat.” Nothing ever gets done because the issues that are critical to success are ignored. Leaders that don’t value healthy debate never tap into the opinions and perspectives of the people on their teams. Countless hours are wasted posturing and protecting self-interests. In these organizations, politics and personal attacks flourish.

On the other hand, leaders that encourage conflict have lively and constructive meetings. Critical issues are put on the table for debate, and big problems are solved quickly. The opinions and ideas of all team members are valued and utilized. Thus, internal politics are minimal.

5 Keys to Dealing With Conflict

  1. Acknowledge it. The first step towards dealing with conflict is acknowledging that it is productive and that many leaders have an inclination to avoid it. As long as a leader or anyone on his team believes that conflict is unnecessary, it is unlikely that any meaningful debate will take place.
  2. Find it. Good leaders are constantly looking for conflict. They are willing to put sensitive issues on the table and force everyone involved to deal with them.
  3. Encourage it. Productive debate allows tensions to surface and then resolves them by expressing relevant points of view. People are naturally uncomfortable with conflict, and they need to constantly be reminded that it is absolutely necessary. Open and honest debate gets more people involved in the business, and when you get more meaningful contributions you get better results.
  4. Resolve it. Effective conflict resolution solves problems in a respectful, efficient, and impactful way. It’s real conversations. Good leaders create the openness that allows people to put their views on the table and explore different, even uncomfortable, perspectives. When an organization is open, problems don’t go unresolved. And ideas and solutions are debated, improved, and acted upon.
  5. Model it. Don’t shy away from conflict. Deal with the problems that must be dealt with. Say what needs to be said and give everyone around you permission to do the same. A leader must never avoid conflict when it is necessary and productive. Once you develop the reputation for addressing conflict head on, others will follow.

Conflict can be awkward, messy, and uncomfortable. But ignoring conflict is far more debilitating to an organization than the temporary discomfort that may come with candid conversations.

How well do you deal with conflict?

 

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