Growth leadership is about much more than increasing revenue and profit. To stay on track and aligned on your business growth journey, the leadership teams in place must be entrusted with making responsible choices.
First, let’s define growth leadership. For the sake of this article, we’re talking about the individuals on the leadership team within an organization, tasked with leading business growth purposefully, strategically, culturally, and beyond profit. At smaller companies, this might fall primarily on the CEO, and as the business expands, multiple individuals will likely collaborate to collectively own business growth efforts.
It’s easy to narrow your focus and commit to one area of your business and do it really well. But executive leaders can rarely afford the luxury of doing so. These roles are multi-faceted and responsible for a broader range of growth and development than one area of commitment can span.
And so, growth leadership is the ultimate balancing act. This job walks the tight rope with an equal dedication to your customers, offering, teams, stakeholders, and society at large. These five areas are collectively critical to evolving sustainably over time in a way that is authentic to the ambition and purpose that called the business to exist in the first place. But, they won’t look the same for everyone.
It comes down to a realistic assessment of what type and level of commitment is feasible for your organization in its current state and in order to meet growth goals.
The 5 commitments:
Ask yourself: What gap can we fill to make my customer’s life easier, better?
It’s certainly not news that understanding your customer well is non-negotiable in order for a business to succeed. And with social media and digital feedback tools and platforms, the information necessary to do so is at our fingertips.
What questions and concerns is your target audience repeatedly raising, either with your company or others? Customers want to know what’s in it for them. How will you show them that your business exists to solve their problem(s)? Don’t hide a product push behind pretensions of customer centricity.
Ask yourself: What will our offering be known for above all else?
Simply put, you cannot do it all. You can’t have the cheapest, and most robust, and most sustainable, 100% locally made product. Something has to give in order to hone in somewhere else.
Start with the meaningful differentiator that best aligns with your purpose, values, capabilities, and customer needs and forget the rest. You will grow, expand and develop from there.
Ask yourself: How will we stand out as a place that people are excited and motivated to belong to?
All workplace cultures are not created equally. And as nice as it sounds, you probably won’t be competitive in all employment areas. So, where do you stand out and how do you stand up for your people?
Your salaries might consistently land in the top quartile of the industry. Or you might not be able to pay the most, but can offer the most robust training and support. Or the most flexible remote work and PTO culture. Or the most humane, empathetic leadership. Whatever it may be, commit to providing your organization with a competitive edge that they’re happy to be a part of.
Ask yourself: Why should your stakeholders continue to invest in your business?
Think beyond faster or higher growth and profits and consider Freedom Growth. The kind of performance that consistently delivers on-strategy results for your customers and your people and creates lasting value for your stakeholders and society at large, over time. In the end, something has to stand out. It’s what will give you the freedom to operate.
Choose your path to value creation. Then, stick with it.
Society at large
Ask yourself: Where are we positioned to affect impactful change in society (and the planet)?
One of my most passionate beliefs is that business for good is good for business. Creating value for People and the Planet leads to Purposeful Business Value. Your commitment to society as a business leader should align with your purpose and values, but it should also be a commitment you can sustain.
Will you give a certain percent of profits to a charity that aligns with your values? Partner with a nonprofit? Commit to offering goods made of planet-safe materials? Or are you not in a place to be able to do so yet? Set quantifiable goals and come back to them to make sure you’re following through. At the time of writing this, it has become painfully clear that businesses must embrace their role in society and find ways to make it part of their ongoing strategic and operational DNA.
Before you can really go all in on these five commitments, I believe you must already have a clearly defined business ambition, purpose, and values. I’ve previously gone into quite a bit of detail on identifying your purpose, and aligning that purpose with your business identity. Leadership actions are a reflection of those drivers— without which, it’s nearly impossible to hold true and genuine in all five areas.
Finally, business growth efforts can’t succeed without regular feedback, both from the inside-out and outside-in. At the end of the day, you’re not going to sustain growth if your people and stakeholders aren’t also aligned. Regular assessments of what the company believes, wants, and needs, should inform all core commitment areas. Similarly, understanding your customers’ desires, and human nature in general, will also impact your growth.
Clearly identifying leadership responsibilities in regards to each of these five areas of commitment is a necessary step in the right direction. Acting across all of them equally is the next step. As long as your ambition, purpose, and values remain unchanged, so should these defined commitments.
For more info/questions about this topic or business transformation in general, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always grateful to keep the conversation going!