How do organizations grow from a startup to an established business? Company growth doesn’t happen in a straight line, but if there was a required first step you could write down something like this: founders delegate and develop leadership team to support company growth.
There’s nuance to how that process happens. Specifically, the culture that the founder(s) defined at the start and that the leadership team will now model, encourage and support going forward. Unfortunately, most companies don’t grow this way! Most don’t have a leadership team and a clearly defined culture. What they have is a hierarchy and belief system with no clear definition other than this is how we’ve always done it.
Let me give you an example of this scenario…
Last week I took an engagement with a company that is growing, but is being challenged internally because it’s leader failed to develop people for leadership roles. Oh, and there is no clearly defined culture. And habits and belief systems are standing in the way of growth. The great thing is it’s leader recognizes his fault in the present situation and is motivated to change it for the better.
The number one thing that he’s hitting himself on the head for? Failing to develop people.
So what happens when you fail to develop employees? They leave because they’ve been doing the same thing over and over again and they’re not developing. Or, they stay because they’re comfortable without developing themselves. In a perfect world, people would not depend on their employers for development and would be motivated to develop themselves.
Employees come and go. Loyalty is rare in an organization where people are not developing. And if there is loyalty, it might just be because those people are comfortable in their position.
The most important task of every leader is to develop other leaders
Not all people are motivated and enthusiasic about leadership. But all people are equipped to be leaders. Entrepreneurs, to be successful, have to be leaders. For some, the realization comes when they have to step because no one else will do it for them. My client is an entrepreneur, has been for almost 30 years. Now, he has to create the conditions for others to step up because they want to; not because they have to.
I’ve always said that a company grows as it’s people grow. And, a company has a leadership problem if it is unable to grow with its people. No one should be indispensable, not the founder or founders. The moment one person becomes indispensable is the moment a company becomes static, unable to move forward because it relies on one voice only.
Bottom line: Leadership isn’t about you; it’s about unleashing others. Therefore, the most important task of every leader is to develop other leaders. Failing to do so will result in endless headaches, but more importantly it will result in an organization never outgrowing itself beyond one or two people.