Are you are full of passion, your business has been growing in triple digits month over month, however you get the feeling that something is not right. Maybe you have built a great company, with high customer service, quality beyond reproach, yet your sales have plateaued. Or you take over a well oiled machine, put your magic touch on it and grow 10x in two years. Which type of leader are you?
After 20-years of coaching and consulting small to medium sized businesses, I have defined three specific forms or phases of leaders. As the ven diagram shows, there may be some overlap, but very few people are the “stars”. How many Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos’ are there in the world? Not many, that’s why we consider them stars. And what is key about this diagram, is that you shouldn’t be fooling yourself either! I am not saying you can’t be the next Steve Jobs, but there is a high likelihood that you aren’t. Can you take your start up, build systems and culture, then scale it to levels others only dream about?
Let’s look at these phases in a bit more detail, to see where you are at this time;
The Start Up Phase
You know this guy or gal … full of energy, sleeping 3-hours a night in the office. Knows everything there is about the product or service, customers, and it’s their baby! They are full of passion and energy, and their moods are contagious. This is your leader, the person navigating you through the difficult areas of growth. As the need for money grows, they do not worry, they raise another round. Your runway grows along with the promise of a great future.
This leader has characteristics such as; decisiveness, flexibility, focus, and vision. They don’t take no for an answer, but often tell that to their employees. They do what is necessary, maybe not the best way possible, but surely the quickest way it can be done. There are quotes on the wall that are something like “Just Do It” or “Beg for forgiveness, instead of pleading for permission“.
This leader gets things on track, builds traction, and motivates the team to ‘getter done’!
What is missing here? Systems, policies, procedures, and organization. There may be profits, but are they the highest attainable? Is the organization as efficient as it can be? Maybe the employees begin to feel a bit burned out, and realize they are all wearing multiple hats.
This is the first CEO that the Founder hires (if they are smart). Build a sustainable, highly efficient, and effective company are this persons marching orders. Clean up the balance sheet, create an organization chart that makes sense, and put a person in charge of human resources. Develop a sales process that is repeatable, a customer service organization that supports your teams, and implement quality systems so that your customer satisfaction ratings go thru the roof!
This leader is; grounded, well rounded, ability to learn from mistakes, a goal setter, planner, and has outstanding people skills! They listen, understand, and read people. They have developed a solid inner circle, and have lived a life of integrity. If you meet them, your impression is “this is a solid citizen”.
Signs in this persons organization focus on; integrity, trust, and empowerment. Quotes like General Norman Schwarzkopf “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy” – yet they build a solid and sound strategy without compromise.
What is missing here? There are thousands of companies like this in the world. Systems builders can’t get past that one factory. They are operating at 95% efficiency, have a reasonable market share, but still small in the grand scheme of things. They can’t scale.
This is the next CEO that the Board of Directors goes after. They are tired of getting 3-4% Dividend Checks, they want to 10x their investments. Everyone of the original investors or board members knows that the place can explode, but how. This is our 3rd distinct leader. The one that thinks about hitting it big.
This leader has a bit of the start up mentality, but has a very sound company under his feet. He sees more than others see, and is able to multiply growth, but multiplying the leaders around him. They look for strategic partners, they ask questions like “what will it take to be 10x the size”? These leaders evaluate and take risks. They begin to multiply their opportunities by expanding product, distribution, locations, or other means.
Innovation, invention, and collaboration are the themes of the organization. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts”, quotes are on the wall. Money is invested in R&D, Projects are funded that were only dreamt of in previous years. The business of this business, becomes growth and expansion, not just sustainability.
A good leader knows a few things. Most importantly, they know what phase they are in and are self-aware enough to know if they are in the correct phase. Good leaders ask great questions, and they should be asking themselves this; am I the right person to lead this company in the next phase? If the answer is no, then “what do I need to learn to fill the gaps?” – this is where an executive coach, skilled in business and leadership training can help you grow.
At the Kole Performance Group, we bring our 30+ years of business, education, and experiences and help you get to where you need to be. Our motto, “working hard today, to improve your tomorrow” – means assessing your strengths and weaknesses, and helping you stay on course. Contact us for a 30-minute consultation … let’s work together and put a plan in place where you can expand your skill set!