Do you remember the Samsung Galaxy 7? It literally burned out. But you don’t have to! When you lead business growth like an endurance athlete, you can execute performance today and still build the capabilities you need to keep growing in the future – at a sustainable pace.
As the CEO of a business that has grown for more than 17 years, I’ve learned that leading a business to both perform and transform for growth is hard work! I also found out that to deliver sustained, profitable growth, you have to lead like an endurance athlete preparing to go the distance. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
It’s easy to get it wrong by either training for the wrong race or preparing at the incorrect pace. Whether your business will burn out or simply fizzle; here are four warning signs that your business won’t make it to the finish line and what to do about them.
1. You’re used to boom-splat growth
If you’ve become accustomed to ramping up sales at an unsustainable pace, only to fall back exhausted and unproductive, you may have become addicted to action without the disciplines needed to achieve results and sustain the effort.
I have learnt that sometimes you have to go slow to go fast. The longer the race, the more important it is to conserve energy for the long-haul. Break the boom-splat cycle by stopping mindless exertion on irrelevant things. Focus on people who can deliver company growth and understand how to develop it sustainably. Then align your people and resources effectively to achieve that growth.
2. You have vision but lack focus
History is full of businesses with great vision but that lacked the focus to succeed.
As an endurance athlete, my vision gets me to the race but it’s my focus that gets me across the finish line. To sustain growth you need to concentrate only on initiatives that get the right results. Then you can align resources and not waste them on unnecessary activity. Learn how to say ‘no’ and empower others to say “no”.
3. You think your strengths give you power
We all love to leverage the strengths of our business, team and ourselves. It’s easier to execute what we know and have done before than to figure out something new or different. But what helped a business succeed in the past, isn’t going to bring success in the future. To deliver sustained growth, you can’t become content.
To build new capabilities without burning everyone out, I regularly drive new growth routines that make it easier to scale development and save energy. For example, my marketing team rotates responsibility for designing and leading our monthly meetings. What was initially painful as each team member had their own strengths and focus, enabled them to see the big picture and shift their thought processes, improved team work and helped build new capabilities in the team.
4. You don’t invest in recovery
Building a business is tough; sometimes you have to pick up the pace to capture a new market, launch a new product, keep up with the competition or adapt to changing customer needs. But then you have to recover. Too often we work at two speeds: fast or slow. But at work, like endurance training, we improve and get stronger when we recover properly. Recovery is equally as important to improvement as training.
It’s great to see leading organizations like Johnson & Johnson and Google recognize the importance of recovery to get results. Through its Human Performance Institute, J&J helps its leaders build resilience and wellbeing to achieve and sustain high levels of performance. Google teaches its employees how use different types of workspaces to manage their own energy levels.
If your business is showing any of these four signs, take a step back to reflect on whether your business is pacing for growth. When you master the practices of focus, routines and recovery you’ll help your business perform today while transforming for the future — without crashing and burning.