Leadership Lessons We Learned from GLS 2022
August 25, 2022 |
November 24, 2020
Growing a business can be a daunting task. There are few guarantees and no shortage of difficult decisions. But, it can be one of the most rewarding endeavors you’ll ever undertake. Growing a business isn’t just profitable financially – as many business owners will tell you that, done properly, it’s mentally, psychologically, socially, and emotionally fulfilling, as well. It’s for this reason that it’s so vital to grow your business the right way.
Admittedly, growing the “right way” is subjective. It could mean one thing for a certain business owner and something completely different for another. And, honestly, that is what is so wonderful about our mixed market economy in the US. You can grow your business and serve your conscience at the same time.
For instance, if the “right way” for you means environmental sustainability, there are plenty of ways you can both grow your bottom line and contribute to our planet. Consider a company like Patagonia. With an annual growth rate of 14% and sales over $1B, Patagonia is one of the largest and fastest-growing companies in the outdoor apparel industry but not at the expense of what it considers “right.” Patagonia considers itself an “activist company” and sits at the forefront of social and corporate responsibility. Initiatives like on-site childcare, giving 1% of sales to preserve the natural environment, and extending the life of used gear have helped Patagonia not only grow as a brand but grow in a way that supports their mission and values.
So, what does it mean to grow your business the “right way?” In a nutshell, it’s growing towards your company’s vision in a way that aligns with your underlying purpose (or mission) and doesn’t sacrifice your inherent values.
In other words, if you’re growing towards a specific goal or vision, think of your mission or purpose as the road that you use to get to that destination and your values as the guardrails that keep you on the road. While there are many different “roads” to your destination, the right one is the one that doesn’t violate your corporate conscience and still allows you best to serve your clients, employees, and community. When you reach your destination, on that road, it’s pretty safe to say you’ve grown the “right way.”
With that analogy in mind, here are our tips to help you grow your business the right way.
When growing your business, never take your eye off of the prize. Stay true to your vision. If you don’t have a clearly defined vision for your business, start here.
Pastor and leadership expert Andy Stanley defines vision as “a mental picture of what could be, fueled by a passion that it should be.” This definition is perfect for a company thinking about growing the right way because it marries the theoretical and the pragmatic.
A few questions to help flesh out your vision:
For inspiration, here are a couple of examples of great vision statements.
Alzheimer’s Association: A world without Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.
Southwest Airlines: To be the world’s most loved, most efficient, and most profitable airline.
PHOS: 25 team members, serving clients in 25 states, sponsoring 25 children by the year 2025.
The challenge with vision is that it isn’t very adhesive. Like exercise, you have to commit to it daily for it to make a difference.
Once you’ve done the hard work of clarifying and crafting your vision statement, Stanley recommends the following to make your vision stick:
The decisions you make now and as you grow need to connect back to why you got into business in the first place. In his book, Start With Why, Simon Sinek says the following:
“Knowing your WHY is not the only way to be successful, but it is the only way to maintain a lasting success and have a greater blend of innovation and flexibility. When a WHY goes fuzzy, it becomes much more difficult to maintain the growth, loyalty, and inspiration that helped drive the original success. By difficult, I mean that manipulation rather than inspiration fast become the strategy of choice to motivate behavior. This is effective in the short term but comes at a high cost in the long term.”
Sinek says that your “why” should be the starting point for all of your business’s future communication and activities. If you want to grow your business the right way, start by telling your customers and employees why you do things, then do them.
This is where your business’s mission is important.
Your mission is the heart of your business and sets the tone for your day-to-day activities. Whereas a vision statement is future-focused, aspirational, and tends to use empirical or superlative words (i.e., 25 team members or the most profitable), a mission statement is more daily action-oriented and tends to declare the purpose of an organization.
IKEA: To create a better everyday life for many people.
Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
PHOS: To be a company that team members never want to leave, clients can’t do without, and the world is better for and, in so doing, exemplify the love of Jesus Christ.
An effective mission statement will unify the direction of your business. This is especially crucial when thinking about growing the right way. A clearly defined mission, or purpose, can motivate you and your team toward a common goal whereas, a poorly defined purpose can create confusion and dissatisfaction.
Like your vision, your mission should be part and parcel of your organization. It should be something that every team member embraces personally and encounters regularly.
There may be many roads to your ultimate destination, but very few are the “right” road. Identifying the road that your business and team members will travel makes all the difference in growing your business in the right way.
And, just like most roads, guardrails ensure that you stay on the right path and don’t veer off unexpectedly. In this analogy, these guardrails are your business’s core values.
Core values can help you ensure that your employees are working towards the same common vision and are on the same mission. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but each person you choose to work with will either contribute to or detract from your mission.
When hiring, consider your organization’s values and whether your applicants will help you or hurt you. This may mean you have to be more selective, but it will ultimately help your business grow in the right direction.
Similarly, evaluate your current employees. Do they uphold your company’s core values? Reward those that do. Every parent knows that if you want good behaviors to continue and spread, you need to encourage them. It’s no different with your employees.
Celebrating the employees exemplifying your core values will reinforce those values and motivate others to do the same. On the flip side, you may have employees that just don’t embody your organizational values. This presents opportunities to train and, often regrettably, let go of those that just don’t fit the culture.
Do your clients allow you to exercise your core values? What about your vendors or other third parties? If they don’t, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship.
Ultimately, core values are critical if you want to grow the right way and create a long-lasting, successful organization that people enjoy working with and for.
We love creating strategies that help businesses focus on what matters most to them. Every business has its own history, its own goals, its own conscience, and, ultimately, its own future. Strategic consulting helps us to create a clear path to that future.
So, whether we are helping you create a beautiful website, launch a new social media campaign, or consult with your leadership team on how to take your business to the next level, we start with your business’s purpose, goals, and values and let those inform all of our future decisions – ensuring that we are always on the right road.