We all want to grow in life, and especially in business. It is part of the measurement of success we as leaders can look at, and it’s one we often have to meet for our stakeholders and team members. Who wants to be part of a stagnant team?
But there’s a danger in growth most people don’t know about, or if you do know, it’s something you may not know how to avoid. This is the difference between temporary growth and sustainable growth. I’ve had my fair share of temporary growth in my decades leading businesses in this industry, and I’ve seen a fair share of those I coach give in to the temporary growth only to be right back to where they were months or years ago in the end. I’ve spent time thinking and experimenting on this topic of how to buy into sustainable growth and discovered three keys that work every time.
No. 1: Release
First, I want you to take a good long look at yourself as a leader. Reflect and discover the areas you excel in. Everyone has natural talents or skills developed through hard work that is in their wheelhouse. We need to find what those are. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself to help discover these:
- Where are your strengths?
- What are you great at?
- What do you enjoy doing in your job?
Once you can name a few of the tasks or skills you’re strongest in, I want you to flip the questions on their head. Find the things you suck at (excuse my French). Find the things you dread because you know you’re not doing the best that task needs. We need the knowledge of both of these in place before we step into sustainable growth, so take the time you need to discover this. If you feel brave enough, ask those you trust and respect what they see you excelling and struggling with.
Once you have these in mind, I want you to release the things you’re just not good at. These don’t align with you as a leader, and they’ll drag everything down. Don’t ignore them, but find someone or something or a different way to get them done that does play to your strengths and purpose as a leader. Some leaders power through these things, and things seem to improve. But in the end, it becomes a chore every time and the growth stops.
No. 2: Reinvent
This step is a natural extension of the last. Now, you need to look at your job and responsibilities, and reinvent those and yourself to better match your purpose and your strengths. If you’re lucky enough to be in a high enough position, you can just change your job and responsibilities to match this, great! If not, you’ll need to get creative and honest with those around you. Show how you can excel in certain areas, and by changing your own you allow for others to step into their strengths.
For example, I’ll admit I’m not the expert on the actual services in my service industry, but I am great at communication, branding and guiding a team. I would be beating my head against a wall (and I have) if I spent my time, effort and lack of expertise trying to tell people who know more than me how to do the service part of their job. But, by stepping back and reinventing, I make the other parts of the business stronger based on my purpose, and I allow others stronger than me in other areas to step up and make our growth skyrocket.
It takes a brave person to do this. It takes humility and self-awareness. But your growth will become sustainable because people will be doing what they’re meant to do in areas they’re strong in. Your team won’t burn out. It’ll run a lot more effectively.
No. 3: Replace
Be specific now about the tasks and jobs you replace with the ones you’ve released and reinvented. If you stop at the second key (and I know a lot who do), you’re just letting go of leadership. You need to replace everything you were doing with something else to make the company grow in a way that aligns with your abilities and skills.
The hard part here is that you need to make this choice every day, every week, every month and every year. Always be going through these keys and choosing to replace the tasks that you give to those who do it better with ones you’re strongest in. By replacing as a leader, you’re doing a bunch of different things, including:
- Taking on tasks that need doing that you will do well;
- Not becoming lazy and letting others do the hard work;
- Constantly improving yourself and becoming better;
- Allowing your team to step into their greatness;
- Removing energy-draining activities from everyone’s plate; and
- Modeling for your team the drive, honesty and hard work it takes to succeed.
People are afraid of growth, my friends. We all want it, but we often don’t want to do the hard work it takes to get there. Or, we’re afraid to do the honest reflection and communication it takes to find the places where everyone will succeed. I’ve seen people force their way through certain tasks to meet benchmarks, but one of two things always happens: They get tired and slip back into the stagnant ways of before, or they burn out and leave.
The solution is simple in explanation, but tough to do. However, once you make it a habit, you’ll be shocked how your growth will continue in a sustainable way, with everyone feeling happier. Release the tasks you don’t do as well and don’t align with your purpose as a leader; reinvent the job and responsibilities to better align, and replace everything you give up with something you need to do and will do well. When your whole team is on board, your business will grow, and it’ll be sustainable because people will be doing what they were meant to do.