In business, as in life, I have found that my progress is often determined in great part by my willingness and ability to change. As a less experienced manager/leader, not knowing what I didn’t know, I was open to the voices of those around me who had experience, wisdom, and perspectives I was often lacking. I learned new approaches, new tools, sought out and embraced new team members and quickly adapted to a competitive, changing environment. I thrived in uncertainty, relishing the chance to innovate and live on the leading edge of change.
Later in my career, our industry was rapidly evolving due to deregulation and consolidation. As a leader, I was faced with a decision to embrace change and evolve, or continue with the existing strategy, one I had experienced considerable success with.
It’s sometimes hard to shake the sense of righteousness that comes from experiencing a large amount of success. The siren song “I have arrived,” is often the song we hear just before we crash into the rocks.
As leaders of an organization, whether you are the Owner, President, COO, GM, or department head, this dynamic is one I am guessing you have experienced in some way, directly or indirectly. If you have been a member of a team in a fast-growth company, you have experienced advancements from one stage to another, each one demanding a slightly different set of tools and processes than the previous one.
Consider two very common situations I see in fast-growing organizations as cautionary tales that can be evidence of a bottleneck to growth.
Departmental Bottleneck: Shifting from Doing to Leading
For a multitude of reasons, organizational growth is creating stress for the department head and the entire team. The structure and processes (or lack of them) that worked in a smaller iteration of the organization no longer work efficiently and effectively. I think of an Operations leader who was facing a similar challenge, who was able to see that his role desperately needed him to step out of the individual contributor role he had simultaneously held along with his leadership team in the past. His organization needed him to lead and manage his team, to “get results through other people” for the organization to successfully scale and grow. If he continued his “doing,” which consumed a large amount of his time historically, he would be unable to lead and coach his team of managers through critical change of their own. This individual navigated this shift successfully, but not without some pain in the process.
Owner Bottleneck: Knowing When You Need More
This example focuses on the Owner, and his or her struggle with giving up the day-to-day control of the organization that they founded and/or took over and led for many years, often with much success along the way. Many companies outgrow the strengths and skills of these passionate, committed Owners, and require a more professional operator to step in and lead the team, drive the operating plan, and manage the operating system of the organization to enable rapid, profitable growth. I have witnessed highly successful outcomes when the owner was able to see this and make this change, and cautionary tales where the owner was unable to make that shift, and the company’s growth was limited as a result.
Recently, a client owner friend of mine who has seen his company through significant growth, was able to seek advice, hear feedback around his strengths and weaknesses, and create a vision and plan to achieve a future where he had owner freedom, no longer a prisoner of the things he truly did not like to do. He sought out and found a President for the company who had experience in several seats prior to taking the leadership helm. This shift has helped truly transform the organization and drive explosive growth that they otherwise may have never seen. Kudos to my friend for his ability to focus on what his company needed from him as an owner to reach the organization’s growth potential.
In business as in life, often those skills and behaviors that got us to a certain point cannot get us to that “next level” we need to continue our growth. In business, these levels of growth are described as “life cycle stages,” and what helped us reach one stage is not necessarily enough to get us to that next level.
As a leader or owner, is it time to delegate roles and responsibilities that others could do more efficiently and effectively while also allowing you to focus on higher value activities? Or has the seat you occupy simply outgrown your strengths and skills, and it is time to find a new person to lead the organization to that next level of growth?
Easy to say, tougher to do, but success here can truly power your company to go further, faster, creating a more valuable company, and ultimately owner/leader freedom for you.
Identifying your Own Bottlenecks
A great way to uncover areas of opportunity is to benchmark where your company sits today. One of the tools The Resultants uses is the Value Builder System™, a methodology consisting of eight key levers of company value you can push and pull to significantly increase the growth and value of your company.
Take 10 minutes to complete the Value Builder Questionnaire and join over 65,000 business owners who have used this score to move their companies further, faster.