3.3 Leading Through Growth
EGL Newsletter Volume 3.3
An old friend and colleague recently asked me what are the signs that you are growing too fast? That one really led me to the usual consultant response of that depends. Never fear, the answer gets more clear. You just have to think of it in terms of a larger system.
All organizations must be viewed in the context of their environment. So, the first part of that answer is relative to the trends in your environment, the demand, your ability to capitalize on that demand, and all the other factors that tell you if you are growing faster than your environment. That is one question. The answer to that lies in your market intelligence and strategic planning capabilities. The other question is one for the leadership of humans.
From a human perspective, as an organization brings in new members, the overall meta-consciousness of the organization can become diluted or confused. As new conversations emerge from new members, the mental picture of the organizations fit with the environment can begin to shift. This is the leaders warning signal on speed of growth. The solution, however, is not necessarily to slow the growth or bringing in new members. It is simply to speed the processes by which you build common ground and compelling pictures for the future among the new and shifting organization. Leaders must constantly search for the compelling future that is held in the mind of the organization. If it is there, heighten and expand it. If it isn’t, create it. If it is not aligned with the strategy, shift it. That is the role of a leader in growth. Leaders create pictures of the future, then create processes that allow the members to paint themselves into that future.
The short answer is when, through conversations with people in the organization, it becomes clear that the picture for the future is becoming unclear, your growth process has been too fast. In that case, it means you need to accelerate the process of building common ground and compelling pictures of the future, not necessarily slow your growth. A leaders job is always to engage and inform the people of the future and the direction. Growth often creates a leadership dilemma in which they get so busy growing the business that they neglect to grow the vision along with it. That vision needs to grow faster than the business, rather than the other way round.
So, to all you leaders,
When faced with growth, remember to focus on growing the idea of the future among the people. Paradoxically, time spent here will liberate your time, not limit it, as nothing promotes growth faster than the collective thinking of committed people.