Leadership in an organization is dynamic, both in terms of changing team members and the challenges. You never reach the finish line. And it is certainly not something you do once and then check off your list. Leaders never stop growing and developing, even for those in the top of the organization. In fact, an organization where the leaders are not growing will soon stall and eventually fail to compete. John C. Maxwell said it best.
Everything rises and falls with leadership. ~ John C. Maxwell
So if the leaders in your organization are not growing, they and your organization will eventually hit a ceiling. This is what John Maxwell refers to as “The Law of the Lid.”
So how do you raise your lid? What are the components of a growing organization? What does a growth culture look like?
To have a growing organization, the people have to have the desire to grow. While this seems obvious, can you see this desire played out day-to-day?
Question 1: Do you and the people in your organization have a desire to grow and do they have a forward focus?
I see a lot of people that simply want to survive the day. I also see a lot of people that believe that since they have attained a certain position or title, they act like they have “made it” and no longer need to push themselves to grow in the area of leadership. Even team members that have performed well in the past can reach that point where they are simply trying to make it through the day, or believe that they have all the tools and abilities that they need. I’ve been there! It can be very difficult to get out of that mode.
The desire to grow and look forward needs to exist at every level in the organization. If the core leadership is focused on their personal growth, and that is evident to the entire organization, that will go a long way to support this component of the culture.
Question 2: Are people constantly given opportunities outside their comfort zone and challenged to grow?
Growth does not happen when we are in our comfort zone, period. Think about any area of life and you will see that growth happens only when we are challenged. A word of caution here… If you are outside your comfort zone and also outside your strength zone, you are on very dangerous ground. This is where it is so important that the leaders in the organization understand, not only the strengths of their team members, but their weaknesses. To put a team member in a position where they are being challenged outside their area of strength is a setup for failure.
Question 3: Does your organization treat failure as the enemy, or is there an affirming environment when mistakes are made?
If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes. ~ John Wooden
Without mistakes, nothing is really learned. People are absolutely going to make mistakes. That is just a fact of life. When asked about all the “failures” he had experienced while inventing, Thomas Edison responded, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” The way the organization handles mistakes will either create a culture where people learn from their mistake or they will hide there mistakes. People have to be able to take risks if they want to grow and learn. If the decision is so critical that a mistake is absolutely not OK, then the decision needs to have more experienced people to support. But don’t take it out of the hands of the “newbie.” Just make sure that there is some coaching and mentoring taking place. And when mistakes are made, the first question should never be, “Who’s fault was this?” The first question should always be, “What happened, and how can we learn prevent this in the future?”
Question 4: Are others growing, and is growth modeled and expected?
In one of the organizations I have been involved with, there was clearly an expectation for people to grow. And that expectation was communicated through the fact that the leadership in that organization was growing and developing. My immediate supervisor, the Director of Product Development was a big advocate of formal and informal training. He also believed in application. We did this by practicing what we learned, and also teaching. Each week in the staff meeting, one of us would make a presentation to the group on something we had learned. We also shared experiences from the application. This activity was not reserved only for us, but the Director was included in the rotation. The entire team was learning and growing.
Answer these questions and model these behaviors, and you will see your teams and organization begin to grow and flourish!
What does your organization do to foster growth?