Growth Requires Practical and Idealistic Leadership
Leaders of growth aren’t successful without a strong team. And when it comes to managing their teams, they display two contradictory qualities: practicality and idealism. On the one hand, they are extremely practical – intensely aware of the realities of their situation and what is needed to succeed, and relentless in their focus on results. On the other hand, they are idealistic – visionaries who defy the odds to transform their ideas into reality by offering their teams support, motivation, and encouragement.
The leaders of some of the fastest growing companies I know are practical and idealistic at the same time. They do whatever it takes to get where they are going. But, as important as bottom-line numbers are, they also measure success by how much they positively impact the lives of the people around them.
What are the qualities that you can develop or strengthen in order to build a successful team? Here are the three elements I see most often in the team-building approaches of growth leaders:
Add and Remove to Build a Team
Leaders of growing companies always make what’s best for the organization their top priority. Growth leaders are unyielding about matching individual capabilities, knowledge, and skills to the needs of the business. And they are matter-of-fact about making difficult people decisions. They have little reservation about replacing people who aren’t right for the organization or removing anyone who doesn’t live up to expectations. There are two parts to the team building equation:
1. Hiring. Growth leaders actively build the team and shape the environment in ways that give them the best chance for success. They understand what capabilities their team will need to reach their goals. And they know the specific qualities that will enable potential team members to make a significant contribution. Whether it’s drive and motivation to step up, the ability to act quickly, the confidence to take on big challenges, or the willingness to tell the truth, growth leaders determine the qualities they need in people and are unwavering in their commitment to find them.
Leaders that excel at growth are relentless in their pursuit of the right talent. They refuse to settle for anything less than the experience they need. Growth leaders have a willingness to experiment with ideas, but not people.
2. Manage Performance. Growth leaders quickly assess people’s performance. While they offer strong support to team members – at every step along the way – they’re also continually monitoring and evaluating performance.
Part of building the best team involves a willingness to bring in new people that can grow with the business. Growth leaders quickly recognize and remove people who lack the necessary skills, aren’t team players, or just simply aren’t a good fit.
Get Them Engaged
The second step is getting a high level of engagement. Growth leaders recognize the importance of providing inspiration, motivation, and a sense of common purpose to gain the commitment and engagement necessary to succeed.
Successful high growth companies focus on creating the right kind of environment to enable and encourage the right behaviors. This results in high employee engagement, which in turn leads to smart strategies, quality products, execution excellence, satisfied customers – and growth.
A deep level of commitment is what enables leaders to build a foundation of trust, move people to take action, maintain the reliability of the team, and ensure the quality of the work. At the same time, growth leaders avoid becoming emotionally attached to the business itself, or to a specific course of action. This distance allows them to step in and change direction, team members, structures, or processes as necessary.
Be Tough and Fair
Nowhere is a growth leader’s practicality and idealism more apparent than in their ability to be both tough and fair in the way they manage people. They have an extraordinary passion for results and will not let someone’s poor performance threaten the outcome. But, at the same time, they are fiercely supportive, compassionate, and respectful of every individual on their team.
Some managers are too tough, overly demanding, harsh, authoritative, impatient, and don’t give people the credit they deserve. In other instances managers are too soft, bending over backwards to get consensus, and often placing the needs of individuals over those of the department or company. In either case, they usually accomplish very little.
Growth leaders balance toughness and fairness.
Without a doubt, growth leaders have a relentless focus on results. But it’s their ability to build a team, get them engaged, and be both tough and fair that enables growth.
Are you a practical and idealistic leader?