7 Ways We Cultivate Growth

April 12, 2013

I have a friend, his name is Bill, but we call him Yoda because he comes out of nowhere with amazing bits of wisdom. One particular nugget has stayed with me for years. In response to talking about young leaders, he said, “The problem with many young leaders is they don’t think there is enough success available in the world for everyone.” Meaning, we’re prone towards jealousy, excited to celebrate our own growth but hesitant to celebrate the accomplishments of others because they might steal our success.

Earlier this week, I wrote about 7 Ways We Stunt Our Growth, I need to add Bill’s insight to the list and make it eight. Envy paralyzes you and will always thwart our personal growth.

What about the other side of the coin? How can we, as leaders, cultivate growth? Not just our own growth for the sake of our own success, but the growth of those around us as well.

A successful growing organization is comprised of a bunch of individuals who are making progress as a team. Success is meant to be shared.

7 Ways We Cultivate Growth

  1. Acknowledge problems AND deal with them. There is no perfect organization as dysfunction always rears its ugly head. A growing organization isn’t problem free, they just get good at finding the problems and dealing with them. When a problem is brought to light, the right people take ownership and no one is shifting blame or making excuses.
  2. Encourage people to dream big and pursue growth. An encouraging culture is contagious and usually results in a winning team. Employees are urged to innovate and follow inspiration. There is frequent sharing of new ideas. Everyone is invited to dream big about the future in the context of a safe leadership team.  
  3. Do away with the 5:00 whistle. Everyone is invested in the vision and enjoy their role in its implementation. They are committed, engaged and accountable to getting the job done and not just punching a time clock. People willingly put in the extra time needed and maintain an enthusiasm for the tasks ahead.
  4. Clearly define the mission. A clear mission is to an organization what oxygen is to a human, without it we’re dead. When your organization’s mission is clear, it allows you to tie every activity to it in a way that reinforces why you exist. This clarity of purpose allows the team to maximize their efforts and get better and better at the most important things
  5. Choose influence over control. It’s so easy to be a control freak (I know from years of practice), but there is a better way. Engaging and caring deeply about the details is important but we must inspire and pass on a passion and trust to our teams. People that are invested in and not just micro-managed will rise to meet the growing challenges of the organization.
  6. Take a few risks. Growth is not achieved by sitting idle. Be aggressive, seek wise counsel and don’t be afraid to take a little risk. You might fail, but that failure might just be the thing that leads to major growth. It might also work! You’ll never know if fear of failure prevents you from ever trying.
  7. Leave room at the table for new people. Does the intern in the room see a potential path for growth with the organization? Young talent is looking for the chance to make a difference, to be a part of something successful. Developing a culture where new leaders and fresh perspectives are invited will motivate people (old and new), resulting in an ever growing base of lasting talent.

One of the most exciting things growth brings is new relationships. New friends, new customers, new co-workers, new volunteers, new leaders and new family. It is extremely satisfying to see these new relationships grow and succeed.

How can you serve your organization by taking the necessary steps to cultivate healthy growth?

For more on how to build a healthy leadership team check out my latest book, Authority: The Leaders Call to Serve.