Years ago, I was calling on the owner of a fairly good-sized manufacturer. He proudly gave me a tour of his facility, commenting on each department. He clearly understood the areas that were working, as well as the challenges he faced—including the role of his leadership team, which consisted of working managers.
When we got back to his office he asked for my opinion, and I told him that his company’s growth would always be limited by the leadership of the organization—which, in reality, was only himself.
A Model Business for Avoiding Company Growth
I explained how a fully accountable and empowered leadership team could free him up to focus on the highest-value activities for the organization. Things like high-level customer and supplier relationship building, new market or product opportunities—activities that would take less effort and make him more money.
I will never forget his serious reply: “But then, what would I do? I like that everything goes through me.” It has taken me years to process this reaction.
Within EOS®, our goal is to help business leaders get what they want from their business. It occurred to me that this guy was getting exactly what he wanted from his business! But he was a horrible candidate for any growth strategy because he didn’t want company growth.
You Need to Grow or Die
One of the Core Values at EOS is “Grow or Die.” This guy wasn’t dead, but his batteries were really low.
Grow or Die doesn’t just mean that the company is constantly pursuing a growth strategy, because that can’t be true for every organization at every stage. What it does mean is that a company’s leaders can never stop growing. It’s also our responsibility to ensure that everyone around us is stretched and pursuing their own growth path.
Steven Covey is credited with the saying, “All organizations are perfectly aligned to get the results they get.” I think the same is true for us as individuals.
To grow, a leader must be willing to face every reality that is keeping the organization from helping them get what they want from their business—including their own stagnation. We are all blessed and challenged by the same 24-hour clock. The difference between success and failure, engagement and apathy, happiness and stagnation is what we choose to do with our time.
Recharge those batteries—the clock is ticking and you’re not dead yet!