Great Leaders Focus on Development before Growth

Great Leaders Focus on Development before Growth

As Executive Leadership Coaches, one of the key reasons our clients come to us is to help them grow their leaders, so they can grow their business faster.

Every time a CEO tells me they want to grow their business, I ask myself – is this company ready for growth? Many companies get too narrowly focused on the concept of bigger is better, but fail to see gaps in their development that will impede sustainable long-term growth.


Development and Growth are two different things:

  • Development means to increase the capacity of something, therefore creating what was previously not possible.
  • Growth means to add something to your company, such as more staff, clients, sales, equipment, products, and locations to expand what you’re already doing.

At Awesome Journey, we believe that for an Executive Leadership Team to create sustainable growth in their business, they must first start with Development of Key Assets and a 3-year plan that focuses on the key assets of your business including your people, your products, your systems/processes, and your culture.


Key Assets:

  1. People:

Develop language that is generative vs descriptive. Generative language is action-oriented with clear requests and promises that lead to clear agreements.

  1. Time needs to be Reliably in Existence:

Putting your day’s activities and tasks into your calendar so time is automatically allocated to priorities. Remove the idea of “not enough time”.

  1. Reality that is Grounded in Facts vs Opinion:

Quality leaders are disciplined to listen for pure facts vs perceptions, interpretations or opinions. An opinion is an expression of a person’s feelings vs facts is a statement that can be proven right or wrong.

As leaders embrace both horizontal learning development (acquiring and experiencing new knowledge) and vertical learning development (increase awareness so you can shift your language from descriptive to generative), they can create new action, outcomes, and possibilities that will now emerge because of the leadership development.

In the “Future Trends in Leadership Development” article by Nick Petri, the author speaks to why Vertical Development is necessary for business and how it makes an organization immune to the trials and tribulations of change in the marketplace.

What I like most about this article is how the author talks about 3 distinct mindsets that a leader will evolve through as part of their own leadership development journey:

  • Dependent Conformer
  • Independent Achiever
  • Interdependent Collaborator
  1. Products:

Increase functionality, which will give your organization a larger capacity to support clients’ requests.

  1. Systems/Processes:

Increase the level of workability to improve efficiency and the ease in which people do their work. As workability increases, people become more productive and happier, and clients find it enjoyable and easy to buy from your organization.

  1. Culture:

A High-Performance culture is formed when everyone in the company is having intentional conversations that are aligned to the core values and the mission statement.

When your organization is intentional about developing your core assets – people, products, processes and culture, your company will be able to deliver excellence consistently, and the company will become attractive and in demand in the marketplace.

Now that you have a solid foundation you can focus on growing your business.

An excellent growth model to use as a framework is the Greiner Growth Model which speaks to the natural evolution of a business that is growing and where the tensions points are that can cause disruption.

Most companies begin at Phase 1 where the group is small and informal, and the organizational structure is flat. Typically, the entrepreneur invests heavily in acquiring new clients to build the business.

Phase 2 is where development comes into play. As more clients come on-board, the organization sees the need to hire more people for support, and with more people comes the need to standardize and create processes and structures to manage the business and maintain alignment throughout the organization. This phase is where you build the foundation of the company.

When a company intentionally or unintentionally goes into growth mode before they have developed a foundation through their keys assets (people, products, systems and processes, culture), the business will suffer as cracks begin to show as previous band-aid solutions come apart and there is a lack of coordinated action and communication because the organization is not set up to function at a higher capacity.


How do you know you are ready for Growth?

  • High workability in your organization (tried and tested processes, systems, practices, and principles)
  • Right people in the right seats (people have the skills, knowledge, competency needed to do their job well)
  • Financially stable and profitable (organization can afford the expenses that come with growth)
  • Clear on expertise and differentiation factor in the marketplace
  • Clear vision and solid growth plan (actual plan vs just saying you want to grow)


Leadership Weekly Challenge

Slow down.

Do a deep and honest assessment of where in your company is in terms of developing core assets so that a future growth plan will be set up for success.

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