10 Paths to Growing Your Business

growth iq

Grow Your Company with Confidence

 

How organizations keep growing in the face of stiff competition, a fast-changing business environment, constant innovation, and technology changes is a constant issue for executives. In Growth IQ: Get Smarter About the Choices that Will Make or Break Your Business, Tiffani Bova shares ten simple paths to growth in this environment.

Tiffani Bova is the global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce. Her work over the last twenty years spans startups to the Fortune 500. I recently spoke with her about her work.

 

“The one thing about growth is, it is never one thing.” – Tiffani Bova

 

Common Growth Mistakes

What are some of the common mistakes leaders make when trying to reenergize growth?

One of the most vexing challenges faced by executives is determining how best to grow their business. Unfortunately, these challenges to grow have multiplied in recent years. The problem is that too many companies respond to a competitive threat, or a market disruption, with a strategic business model that worked in the past and may not work in the future. Growth strategy is a thinking game that works when you have the right mindset to inform the when, where and why of every strategic move you make. I have yet to find a company that can attribute their growth to one silver bullet. The impact of combining multiple efforts will be greater than the sum of its parts. Reenergizing growth starts with being open to getting uncomfortable with the status quo and comfortable with change.

 

Why do companies so often fail to duplicate a growth strategy from an industry rival?

Too many companies ‘benchmark’ their company against their rival or a set of competitors in the same industry. While benchmarking can be a worthwhile exercise, it can also lend itself to a limited view of what is happening in the overall market. Widening the lens to look at overall context, on the other hand, allows companies to look for best practices from other sectors and learn from innovation happening across industries. What is happening in consumer spending patterns? What technology advancements have happened which you can capitalize on? How are people engaging with brands? What is the sentiment towards big social issues? The insights we can glean from these questions are invaluable when setting a growth strategy.

Furthermore, benchmarking is an outside-in view focused mostly on products and business models. Meaning, you are only able to understand their business from an outsider’s perspective. It is the inner workings, or the mental model, of a company’s growth strategy that is their ‘secret sauce’ – it is what differentiates them from each other especially in highly competitive markets.  The fact is, companies rarely have the same products, customers, value propositions or go-to-market strategies or more importantly, culture. So, attempting to replicate another company’s strategy, may sound like a good plan, yet rarely delivers expected results, or worse it could backfire and have long-term negative impact on the company overall. There are exceptions to this statement of course, especially in highly commoditized industries where ‘price’ is what companies compete on, but any value-based product will require more than that as a solid growth strategy.

 

“Customer Experience is the new Black.” – Tiffani Bova

 

The Challenge of Customer Experience

Why Your Success is Fueled by Your Peers

surround people

The Discipline of Success

 

If you want to be successful, it seems to make sense to get around successful people. The people we are around have an immeasurable impact on us. It’s one of the major themes in my book, The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future.

That’s why I was drawn to Leo Bottary’s new book, What Anyone Can Do: How Surrounding Yourself with the Right People Will Drive Change, Opportunity, and Personal Growth. He covers this important aspect of success. Success is available to everyone who pursues it with discipline. I recently spoke with Leo about his work.

 

“Self-help doesn’t mean by-yourself-help.” -Leo Bottary

 

The Importance of Peers

Since it is so central to your area of study and expertise, would you start by talking about the importance of peers. Why does it matter more than ever?

Trust in our institutions is low across the board (business, government, media and even non-governmental organizations) — because of this, it creates a vacuum.  If we can’t trust our institutions, where else do we turn?  For example, in the workplace, employees were found to trust their co-workers more than either the CEO or any of the senior leadership team members (Edelman Trust Barometer).  When we lack trust in our institutions, and the people who lead them, we look to one another for reliable counsel.  It’s why in today’s environment, our peers matter more than ever.   It also points to why it’s so essential for leaders to communicate horizontally as well as vertically.  The biggest influencers in today’s organizations are not always identified by job title.  In an era where creating “alignment” is the challenge of the day in so many of today’s companies, getting ALL your key influencers involved early and often is essential to making real alignment possible.

 

“Who you surround yourself with matters.” -Leo Bottary

 

What is the Aspen Effect and what does it teach us about leadership? 

The Aspen Effect speaks to a phenomenon in nature.  We see individual Aspen trees, yet it’s not evident they share a common root system and that thousands of Aspen trees can be one organism.  We are all connected.  If we thought of ourselves more often in terms of being part of a larger whole, we would be more successful more often.

 

“We need our peers more than ever.  The less we trust institutions, the more we must rely on one another.” -Leo Bottary

 

Factors of High Performing-Peer Groups

Life Advice from Top Thought Leaders

leadership board room

Leadership Lessons

Early in his career, Rodger Dean Duncan interviewed interesting people like Lyndon Johnson, comedian Jack Benny, Baroness Maria von Trapp, pollster George Gallup, and anthropologist Margaret Mead. He traded jokes with Norman Rockwell and discussed home carpentry with Robert Redford.

Later, as a leadership consultant, he advised cabinet officers in two White House administrations and coached C-suite executives in dozens of Fortune 500 companies. He also headed global communications at Campbell Soup Company. He received his PhD in organizational behavior at Purdue University, and writes a regular column for Forbes.

Duncan’s latest book LeaderSHOP: Workplace, Career, and Life Advice From Today’s Top Thought Leadersis a collection of lessons from these interviews.

 

“You can rent a person’s back and hands, but you must earn his head and heart.” – Rodger Dean Duncan

 

Change Your View

Like you, I’ve interviewed many leadership experts. Were there any surprising interviews that gave you a different perspective?

The interviews for LeaderSHOP certainly provide some thought-provoking perspectives.

Drew Dudley emphasizes the value of regarding every new day as a fresh start and an opportunity for self-reflection on specific behaviors. Leadership, he says, is not a title or accolade. It’s a daily choice about personal practices. His Day One approach to personal management involves making your life less about living up to the expectations of others and more about a disciplined commitment to acting on your core values each day.

In discussing purpose and meaning at work, Dave and Wendy Ulrich highlight the importance of humility in the leader. Humility, they say, is at the heart of a growth mindset that encourages and unleashes learning that, in turn, gives meaning to work and fosters engagement.

Bill George talks about how “authentic” leadership is made possible when the practitioner follows an internal “true north” compass of selflessness and integrity.

Elizabeth Crook emphasizes that our gifts are found at the intersection of what energizes us and what we know how to do. Hint: it’s probably something you’ve been doing in one way or another most of your life.

Hugh Blane talks about a mindset he calls JDTM—Just Doing the Minimum—and how getting clarity on what lights your internal fire can be a critical step toward high achievement.

Rob Fazio gives specific examples of how honest conversation is the key to handling office politics. He also says that listening is bad for your health—that is, listening to discouraging messages from others or to negative self-talk.

Ann Rhoades, former Chief People Officer at Southwest Airlines, underscores the importance of rewarding behaviors that are the foundation of the culture you want—and taking quick and decisive action when expected behavioral norms are violated.

Social psychologist Dan Cable talks about a de-motivator he calls “learned helplessness,” and he explains how leaders can create a work environment that encourages smart risk.

Ira Chaleff reveals the secrets of saying “No!” without getting fired, explaining the situations in which refusing a directive is not insubordination but rather smart collaboration.

Jim Kouzes explains how a feedback-friendly work environment is to everyone’s benefit and why dialogue skills are a hallmark of effective leadership.

Carmine Gallo teaches communication techniques used by great presenters as disparate as Steve Jobs and Pope Francis. The “Rule of Three,” he says, has been used by everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Goldilocks.

Career coach Mary Abbajay discusses approaches to “managing up”—dealing proactively with an incompetent manager in a way that doesn’t derail your career. She suggests tactics ranging from keeping the manager (overly) informed to building your own reputation by filling in where the manager is deficient.

Marshall Goldsmith and Sally Helgesen talk about how striving for perfection can serve you well early in your career (because it supports doing outstanding work), but it can later hold you back because being so invested in precision can dissuade you from taking the kind of risks that characterize strong leaders.

Other people I interviewed—like Brian Tracy, Tom Rath, Jodi Glickman, Laura Vanderham, and Stephen M.R. Covey—provide a rich mosaic of ideas on leadership and personal development. People tell me the individual conversations are interesting, but the real value is having them all in one place that provides insightful “connective tissue.”

 

“Teamwork has been given a bad name by a world of bad practitioners.” – Rodger Dean Duncan

 

How Leaders Impact Culture

Culture is a big topic in leadership circles. Share a few ways leaders best impact culture for the positive.

Motivational Quotes from Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines

Herb Kelleher Quotes

Today I board a Southwest Airlines flight knowing that there’s a hole in the center of the heart-shaped corporate icon. Cofounder of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, just passed away at the age of 87.

He was a legend not only in the airline business, but in any type of business. He was a unique mix of innovation, motivation, and vision.

Here are a few of his quotes on strategy, customer service, culture, and leadership. So many of these quotes I have used whether on stage in a presentation or in a boardroom.

Rest in peace, Mr. Kelleher.

 

Kelleher Quotes to Inspire Your Strategy

 

“We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.” -Herb Kelleher

 

“Just because you don’t announce your plan doesn’t mean you don’t have one.” -Herb Kelleher

 

“A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear.” -Herb Kelleher

 

“We don’t apply labels to things because they prevent you from thinking expansively.” -Herb Kelleher

 

“When an issue comes up, we don’t say we’re going to study it for two and a half years. We just say, ‘Southwest Airlines doesn’t do that. Maybe somebody else does, but we don’t.’” -Herb Kelleher

 

“Leading an organization is as much about soul as it is about systems. Effective leadership finds its source in understanding.” – Herb Kelleher

 

“Treat your employees like customers.” – Herb Kelleher

How to Fuel Business Growth with Cameron Mitchell

Click above to watch our video interview.

 

What is the question?

Our stories are very different, and yet there are some striking common themes: Both of us started in restaurants as dishwashers and became CEOs. Both of us mapped out our goals early in life. Both of us believe in people as the way to transform company culture.

Perhaps that is why I was immediately drawn into the pages of Cameron Mitchell’s compelling book.

More likely the answer to my intrigue is the fact that I find myself in one of his restaurants every week. You can always count on superb service, delicious food, and an inviting atmosphere.

 

“Yes is a state of being.” -Cameron Mitchell

 

Recipe for Growth

The recipe for his latest book includes equal parts entrepreneurial advice, culture how-to, and business mixed together in an autobiographical stew that is seasoned with honesty and experience.

Though I am well-aware of Cameron Mitchell’s success, I found myself nervously reading parts of it, wondering if they would make it.

But make it they did, and the journey is worthwhile reading for anyone looking to emulate success.

Cameron accepted the invitation to visit me in my office where we discussed a range of topics from his mistakes, to company culture, to his recipe of success.

 

“Guaranteed fun = guaranteed success.” -Cameron Mitchell

 

Get his new book, Yes is the Answer! What is the Question?: How Faith In People and a Culture Of Hospitality Built A Modern American Restaurant Company, to learn more about his compelling story.

 

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