Stage 7: Visionary is preceded by a chaotic Wind Tunnel
Stage 7, the Visionary stage of growth, offers great opportunity while throwing even larger challenges your way. You may have heard it said that you can tame a wild duck but you can’t make a tame duck wild which speaks volumes about a CEO’s challenges in Stage 7. Management’s efforts to professionalize the company often crush the entrepreneurial spirit. However, that spirit is so necessary in order not to be left behind by other, newer entrepreneurial firms.
Because of the size, your company has started to form layers of bureaucracy that quickly impede performance and growth.
As you ‘listen’ to your direct reports and employees talking around the proverbial ‘water cooler’, are you hearing any of the following comments:
“That’s the way it’s always been done, I don’t know why they want us to change.”
“We really don’t have the right people on board to make that change.”
“No one cares about what I’m doing, so why should I care?”
“I don’t know what’s going on – they never tell us anything anymore.”
There is one fact I know from experience, if you aren’t telling your employees what’s going on, they are making it up on their own. And their ‘fill in the blanks’ verbiage is MUCH different than yours. Theirs is full of fear, uncertainty, negative speak and ‘attitude’.
With 161-500 employees and beyond, your primary role as the leader is to spend 75% of your time as the Visionary. You need to engage, excite and empower your employees to think about and see the new vision of where the company is going from here.
Spend time communicating the vision, the strategic plan, and your desire to maintain the entrepreneurial spirit of the company that got you where you are today. And then make sure you are ‘walking your talk.’ Take a note from the pages of Marshall Goldsmith’s best-selling book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. The title says it all.
Don’t let your company fall prey to the ‘invisible employee’ syndrome. You now have enough employees in your company that the mediocre ones can simply ‘fall through the cracks’. You may have discovered what I mean. You have employees in your company that just aren’t performing at the level they should.
It’s sometimes easy to overlook them, allowing these employees to become ‘invisible’ and if you do, you are making a mistake. Don’t let them become an invisible negative force in your company – either focus on raising their performance level or part ways.
A company in Stage 7 will have an overwhelming tendency to gravitate toward safety and equilibrium. It will start to act like a large company – its decision making is slower, the product innovation is slower, and the bureaucracy is formidable.
It’s harder to respond as quickly as a younger, more agile organization. Your job as the leader in a company of this size – along with sustaining and propagating the vision of the company – is to create a degree of disequilibrium and chaos within the enterprise.
Your primary goal is to create a corporate culture that supports continued entrepreneurial endeavors. Begin by going through your company and igniting fires of inspiration and innovation. Get out from underneath the strategic and operational challenges in order to identify and carve out new opportunities.
Your top 5 challenges in Stage 7 include:
1. Weak product/service development and differentiation in market
2. Profits are inadequate to grow the company
3. Too slow getting new products/services to market
4. The need for an improved profit design
5. The marketplace and your customers change too quickly
Recapturing the entrepreneurial spirit that you had when you were a much smaller, much more nimble company is critical. Identifying new opportunities, fostering exploration, developing action plans and assigning the necessary resources to manifest those plans is your new paradigm.
Always Remember This!
Most small business owners will not make to Stage 7. They frequently overlook a basic principle of effectively managing growth; what you don’t take care of in one stage of growth doesn’t go away–it follows you to the next stage when there is more complexity and a new set of challenges.
Be Certain You Are Not Behind on Addressing the Rules of the Road From a Prior Stage.
Get a Free Growth Stage Strategy Session With Me to Discuss How to Be Sure You Have Completed the Work as You Go.
Begin by Completing the Growth Strategy Online Questionnaire.
Then, we will schedule a call to debrief the questionnaire.
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