Oh, the places we can go . . .
In business, as in sports, the mantra is “next person up,” especially if there is a change during the course of the game. And the game is always changing in a growing organization.
Everyone is accountable for performing in new and different roles at any given time. In sports, it usually entails someone stepping up if there is an injury. In business, it’s more about adapting to new circumstances as the organization evolves amid competitive shifts, exponential growth or contraction, or outside forces such as new management and/or M&A and integration.
In my experience creating and growing my business from 1 to 1,000 employees and beyond, the ability for people to accept new and different roles as things constantly evolve is often the difference between sustaining growth or overseeing its demise. This is the most profound aspect of leadership – preparing the business and its talent to rise up to new challenges and opportunities seamlessly and continually.
The reality every CEO and leader must face is the changing nature of the workforce, competitive set, technology and marketplace dynamics. Do we have the right staff? Do we have the right skills? Are people ready for the challenge? Can they lead? Getting to the correct answers means ensuring people have what it takes to be accountable, courageous and balanced.
For me, it’s all about finding people who “make it happen!”
Many people believe they are ready for new roles. The difficult management challenge is either giving them a chance to grow or recognizing that doing so could harm the business. In preparing the business for people to step up and act like an owner, I’ve found a practical formula that centers around four specific elements – confidence, clarity, recognition and support. Each one provides the right balance of technical and psychological stimulus for people to assimilate new roles or responsibilities.
- Confidence – Can they handle the challenge? Do they know enough to succeed? Do they have the right EQ? Who is the team that’s needed to work with them? Providing people with the right mix of tools and attitude to bolster their focus is important to raising performance amid transformation.
- Clarity – Change is usually about dealing with ambiguity. But leadership must be clear on what’s expected and the performance level that’s needed. From here, individuals can chart their own path as to how to get there. Clarity in that regard reinforces confidence.
- Recognition – When people are stepping up, letting them hear how well they are doing is important, including when they are not succeeding. Encouraging and guiding talent to exceed performance targets as a company evolves and grows enables scale to take place.
- Support – Teamwork in business requires a coordinated effort so that as people step up there is an infrastructure to drive results. To win, everyone must step up and surround each other with information, resources and expertise. It’s truly gotta be a #OneTeamOneDream approach.
Pushing oneself to achieve greater levels of knowledge, intelligence and collaboration is critical to scaling, expansion and growth. As W2O matures and more people have a stake in its overall future, stepping up to take on more responsibility, accept more accountability, and worry about what I call the “small stuff” become the building blocks for creating the perpetually positive future.
For people who take on such roles, five characteristics of behavior will result in long-term mutual benefits to our clients, our colleagues and the company:
- Jump in the Pool – Anything in life worth doing means doing it with all your heart and soul. No toe-dipping. Just jump!
- Listen vs. Talk – The business world is filled with blowhards. The true winners are the ones who listen.
- Pick up the Trash – As an entrepreneur, I often share with the firm how I still walk the offices and pick up paper on the floor. Why? It’s my responsibility to make sure the firm is pristine and professional in all aspects. It’s also a metaphor for ownership and accountability.
- Why?– The truth is never on the surface. It rests somewhere below. Be curious. Ask expansive questions. Do research. Test assumptions. Look for gaps.
- Dance More – Collaboration is all about connectivity. It’s akin to dancing. Picking a partner(s) and finding the right steps against the rhythm of the business. Picking up knowledge, emotional support, energy. No business can survive without a culture that emphasizes working together.
Starting and growing a business takes a little bit of smarts, some luck, great timing, and, of course, lots of great talent and teamwork. When people take on new roles and rise to the occasion, a business grows and the organization thrives, opening itself up to the next group of leaders and opportunities. Setting this dynamic in motion and ensuring the support and enthusiasm it fosters ensures the behavior and attitude necessary to achieve organizational capacity.
So, are you ready to step up? And Ascend with me?
On a personal level, I’ve never been more excited and encouraged to see our firm take on a new design for future success and evolutionary growth. It all comes down to more great people taking on new and different personas directing their colleagues, peers and clients to incredible places. Oh, the places they will go!