In my 5 Minute Growth Tips article series, I’ve shared overviews of the key best practices for growing a thriving company.
Yet, you may be asking yourself, “how do I implement each of these best practices? how do I make them happen?”
For example, how do I define the right functions on my leadership team? How can we set clear priorities for change and improvement? Or, how do I get my leadership team members to change their mindset?
For some leaders, the thought of using an outside expert, like a coach, has never crossed their mind. One reason is they didn't know about coaching as an option. Another is they think it’s their job as a CEO to have all the answers and to figure these things out on their own.
And that’s certainly an option...if they want to take the long road.
Yet, did Mahama D’Ali, or Lennox Lewis, or any successful athlete, rise to the top of their sports by figuring everything out on their own? No. They each had a coach, an experienced advisor.
Or Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Eric Schmidt? Did they build and grow thriving, enduring companies by taking a DIY approach? No, they also used coaches.
The notion that a CEO has to figure it all out themselves is actually a self-limiting belief.
For sure, CEOs and owners can get there on their own, over time. They’re smart, passionate, energetic and fast learners.
But they’ll get there a lot faster with the support of an experienced external advisor.
As I mentioned in my previous article in the series, business owners and CEOs often have a high internal locus of control, meaning they believe they have control within themselves to make things happen and influence the world around them.
Sometimes, this belief shows up in a counter-productive way where they influence the world by doing too much themselves, rather than getting help from others. As a result, they become the bottleneck, slowing down the company’s development, growth and profitability.
That said, let’s consider the option of figuring things out on their own.
One could look up and read a book or two on each topic, find the books that include how-to guidance, and implement those best practices with their team.
One could even make it simpler and read a book that includes a number of these best practices in one convenient, integrated package, tailored specifically for mid-size companies...like Scaling Up or the 7 Attributes of Agile Growth monograph.
One could even attend a workshop where they get a chance to practice a bit with some of the tools.
With each of these approaches, it’s then up to the CEO alone to implement their learning in their team and company.
So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of a DIY approach?
Some of the advantages are:
Some of the disadvantages include:
In short, the devil is in the details. And there are alot of them.
And why is this the case?
One word: complexity.
Some specific improvements are straightforward, like defining a goal. One can Google how to set a goal like one can Google how to change the oil on a combustion engine. These narrow, individual problems have a straightforward, known solution that applies in most situations.
However, improving how leaders lead and how companies operate isn’t so straightforward. Such changes involved a variety of interconnected organizational and leadership best practices.
For example, strengthening accountability takes much more than setting a goal. And how the goal is set depends on other things like clearly defining individual accountabilities. It’s more like tuning a whole engine. There are multiple parts involved and multiple interacting solutions needed.
There are a few other disadvantages to a DIY approach that aren’t the result of complexity.
For business owners or hired CEOs looking to build a great leadership team with the best practices that help them grow a thriving mid-size company, the thinking sometimes goes that it’s their job to have all the answers. They were smart enough to get to this point, so they must be able to figure the rest out on their own.
Yet, the DIY approach often leads to failed attempts, cynicism, lack of commitment, delays and missed opportunities.
As the 2020 Gravitas Impact Voice of the CEO survey showed, the results are foregone productivity, market share, revenue growth, profit and cash flow. It also found that CEOs often feel unsure, stressed, frustrated, scattered and reactive.
Yet the owners and CEOs that get the furthest fastest tend to take a different path. They don’t focus solely on figuring out what they need to do, but also on who they need to learn from and partner with to speed up the process.
In fact, the Voice of the CEO survey showed that CEOs who engaged a qualified Gravitas Impact business growth and executive team coach saw significant improvements in employee engagement, overall productivity, revenue growth and profitability. They also felt more focused, clear, confident, balanced, calm and strategic.
In my next 5 Minute Growth Tip article, I’ll compare the pros and cons of various options for getting dedicated and tailored, external expert guidance, from strategic planning facilitators and business consultants to CEO forum groups, business coaches and executive team coaches.
What can you do to grow your mid-size company?
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