You have a great company. You’re on solid financial footing. You make a product people want. Your employees are invested in the company’s vision. You should be growing – so why aren’t you? You might find the answer to that question by looking in the mirror.
“Leadership is absolutely critical,” says Fred Jacques, principal consultant at Jacques & Associates and a partner at professional development firm the Leadership Store. “If you’re trying to take the company to the next level, it means a lot of things are likely to change.” In other words, the strategies you used for success to this point may not work anymore. And it can be hard to adapt to this new reality. You might be inadvertently standing in the way of growth. Here’s how to take the next step to see your company surge.
The Problem: That Corporate Feel
Your company’s quick growth is exciting. But it also means the workplace is becoming less casual and you’ve had to implement formal policies and processes. You feel like you’re losing sight of your company’s vision and culture.
The Solution: Visibility
As a company grows, there can be a perception that it’s becoming more “bureaucratic,” Jacques says. In some ways that’s true: you do need to implement policies and systems. But you can do this while preserving your company culture. Keep doing the things that were always important at your company, whether that’s team-bonding activities or principles like employee ownership. And as a leader, it’s important you don’t disappear into the corner office. “Leaders have to remain visible, they have to identify what it is about the culture and how they hang onto that,” Jacques says.
The Problem: You Have to Sleep
You’ve always had a “do-it-yourself” attitude, and your past successes have been the result of hard work and dedication. It’s just natural for you to keep doing everything that needs to get done at your company.
The Solution: Delegate
If you want your business to continue growing, there’s going to come a time where you can’t do it all. There will be too many clients to manage. Too many employees to go without a human resources department. “You have to learn to work not just with other people, but through other people, to get things done,” says Jacques. You need to be willing to delegate, and let others make decisions, or else your company will lose agility and run into the “CEO decision bottleneck.” And delegation is better for you as a leader in the long run, too. You don’t want to risk becoming burnt out because you’re taking on too much.
The Problem: You Don’t Know It All
You used to be the ultimate expert on your company. But as you’re growing and expanding into international markets and developing new products, you’re starting to feel out of your element.
The Solution: Teamwork
Sometimes you need to recognize your weaknesses as a leader. If you’re going to become a large company, you’re not going to be an expert in every area. Jacques suggests making strategic hires to compensate for gaps in your knowledge or skill set. “Leadership teams have to realize that they need a different mix and they have to invite some new and different people with different experience into the organization,” he says. That can mean outside hires, which ties in with the first challenge – make sure you communicate your expectations and vision to anyone coming into the company.