Executive Summary: Lead a High Growth Business
To lead a high growth business needs dynamic leadership. The culture of a business comes from its leadership. If the leadership has a clear sense of purpose, a vision of what to achieve, a winning strategy to get there, can communicate that vision to all of the team, motivate them, celebrate the successes, is visible and are continually learning then this will drive the business forward and achieve the growth objectives for the business.
Here are the 11 things you need to get right:
- A meaningful business mission
- Vibrant vision
- Winning strategy
- Clear communication
- Concise business plan
- Regular board meetings
- 90-day themes
- Daily huddles for priority setting
- Celebrate success
- Be Visible to Your team
- Continuous learning
Meaningful Business Mission
You need a clear sense of purpose for the business. You need to have a clear understanding as to WHY the business exists. What are you passionate about? You may think it is all about profit. However, employees often struggle with that as an overriding purpose as there is nothing in it for them (unless you have a transparent team-based profit-sharing scheme). It is better to look at your passion for what you do and why you started the business in the first place. Your passion for what you do will normally be founded in solving a problem in your sector or industry that nobody else has filled or are fulfilling it badly. It will be your knowledge, expertise and experience that will have enabled you to find products or services that solve that problem.
You need to make sure that the passion that the leadership team has for the business permeates throughout the business.
Simon Sinek on the TED Talk WHY explains it in more detail. (In Youtube search “Simon Sinek TED WHY” and he explains how the human mind works and provides a simple explanation as to understanding the WHY of your business is so important.)
You have a clear purpose or mission for the business. You know WHY you are doing what you are doing. The next thing is a clear vision of WHAT you want to achieve within a 3 to 5-year time frame.
You need to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. You may or may not know how to achieve that vision but you should know and be able to articulate WHAT you want to achieve. The overall HOW of “doing it” becomes your strategy. If you are clear on your purpose and have shared the vision with your team then it will help them to understand why decisions are made, what your priorities are and will have an idea of what is expected of them.
Identifying a vision that is suitable for your business means looking at what is happening outside the business. It requires you to anticipate what might happen and to think critically about the options that would move your business forward. Often, you are faced with confusing and conflicting information. It is for you to interpret the information available to you and come to a decision. Procrastination is the killer of high growth businesses and so you need to be able to work with less than perfect information.
This is important because employees like certainty as their livelihood is in your hands. They have to believe that you will be successful as it will mean that they will have a secure income. Knowing where you are going to take the business gives those around you confidence.
Strategy generally involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions. This the higher level “HOW” you are going to achieve your vision which is in line with the overall purpose of WHY you do what you do.
The wider management should be involved in the detail of how the strategy is formulated and implemented with your guidance, training and support. This creates the buy-in and more importantly understanding as to why certain decisions have been taken so that they can align their efforts with the overall goals of the business.
It is important that this is clearly thought through taking into account the implications on time and resources needed to accomplish it. The implementation should be broken down into 90-day themes so that by the end of every quarter the business has moved closer to achieving its vision. (See Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish, ISBN9 780978 774943).
You need to be a great communicator. It is your team that will be doing the work and they need to be clear on what you are looking to achieve. Better to over-communicate rather than work on a need to know basis as the more they know the more chance they will understand what needs to be achieved. You also need to share your passion for the business. This helps to remove any misconceptions or assumptions you may have made.
For larger organisations, this means writing a half-page summary of the bigger picture and your opinions each month. This can be emailed out or better still put on the Intranet for everybody to access. Take a look at John Oliver’s book “The Team Enterprise Solution” (ISBN: 9 781860 762253).
Concise Business Plan
There needs to be a business plan which describes how the business is going to achieve its objectives. This doesn’t need to be reams of paper. Far from it. There are a number of single page documents such as Mind Maps, Single Page Plans and spreadsheets for the numbers that can capture all the key activities and plans. (Search in Google, “single page business plan template”. They can then become living plans that can be worked on as opposed to the more traditional tomes that have been written in the past and saved in the bottom drawer.
Regular Board Meetings
The business leader needs to discuss strategy with either the board of directors if there is one or with a surrogate board or advisory peer group so that at least once per month the strategy of the business is reviewed and worked on. For an understanding on why Peer Advisory Groups are important, read Napoleon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich, ISBN 978-1-906-46559-9.
90 Day Themes (The Beat of the Drum)
Every 90 days the team identifies 2-3 key projects that will move the business forward and will aim to complete them by the end of the quarter. That way every 12 months 12 key projects will be completed that will move the business forward. For more information read, “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” by Verne Harnish, ISBN9 780978 774943.
Daily Huddles for Priority Setting
Every department in the business should hold a 10-minute daily stand-up meeting to determine the priorities for the day. The point about this meeting is that it sets the priorities for the day and keeps everybody focused on what is important. The agenda should be fixed and individual to that department. Everybody stands so that nobody gets comfortable and ideally should be around a whiteboard or screen that has the priorities and performance KPIs on it. Senior managers should take the opportunity to attend these huddles on a regular basis so the importance of these meetings is emphasised to the employees.
When success comes, celebrate it. Break projects or tasks into smaller chunks with clear milestones so that you do have something to celebrate. Keep celebrations low cost and spontaneous.
Simply saying a big thank you can be a great way of acknowledging the efforts of the team. If somebody has really put themselves out for you then saying thank you with all expenses mini-break for the employee and their family says a lot more than the equivalent money in the wage packet. This is especially true where the work has meant a considerable loss of leisure time with the family.
Some larger franchises use badges to show increasing levels of skill. However, for most businesses simply saying thank you in private to individuals and thanks to teams in public works well and can be done spontaneously.
Be Visible to Your Team
Finally, be visible to your team. Your team need to see you. Get out to where your team are working and if you have a large team hold regular informal meet the boss meetings with a cross-section of your teams.
Write a regular, ideally weekly but no less than monthly, half-page summary of what your opinions are on the business. Raw business statics are fairly meaningless to most employees. They would rather know your opinion on how good those figures are and if they aren’t what you are going to do about it.
It seems that most employees interpret no information as something negative is happening or think the worse. The company grapevine will ensure that any negativity is then amplified. By making yourself visible and available then you can address such issues first hand.
Although a cliché, the only constant in the world today is change. Stand still and you will go backwards. Even to maintain your current levels of trading and profitability you need constant learning, constant reviews and continual change.
Make it a habit for you and your organisation to learn. A lot of people associate learning and training with attending an expensive external course. This is a myth. A lot of companies can often train themselves. There are now train the trainer courses where employees are taught to employ others in their team. This can make it very cost-effective as training often has to be adapted anyway to meet the needs of the business.
Ultimately you are the top coach for your business. Identify your learning style and find ways to maintain and expand your knowledge and then find ways to pass these lessons on to the team.
You are the architect for your business and so it could be some of your learning becomes embedded into the way business is done in your organisation. Other times it may be that you train, coach or support others to pass on what you have learnt to others. Sometimes, it might through a simple monthly half-page summary to the team.
Would you like help to lead your high growth business? Give us a call on 0333 050 9053