Essentials for growth: Culture, leadership development, planning

When it comes to sustaining or growing a business today, the status quo isn’t good enough anymore. We are in exponential times where the change around us is no longer incremental and we must anticipate the opportunities and challenges facing us in the future.

Learn fast. Learn forward. Learn together.

That’s the advice of Joey Havens, HORNE’s managing partner of Strategic Growth.

“The words ‘status quo’ actually scare me,” he said. “It’s the riskiest strategy of all.”

In business today, we face challenges that, if not addressed, can stunt our growth or even threaten our sustainability. Most businesses will find some of their biggest challenges in company culture, Havens also included strategic planning, leadership development and cybersecurity.

Sustained growth today requires that we educate ourselves on current trends affecting our business and customers, develop and elevate our leadership teams, and be intentional and early with our strategic planning, Havens said.

“With the status quo, we start rationalizing that if it’s always worked in the past, it’s going to continue to work,” he said. “In every meeting, you start with this question: ‘Are we moving fast enough?’”  Why?  We are in exponential times where incremental thinking leaves us behind.

Culture is key

If a company fails to develop a great culture, it will be very limited in growth potential and at high risk to eventually fail, Havens said.

“Everything you read today is about people and culture,” he said. “You have no future if you don’t have a strong culture because people play such an important role in that. I think every business today must answer the question, ‘Is our culture good enough?’”

Havens explained that culture doesn’t just make employees feel good. It shows them they are respected, and that their opinions and experiences matter to the overall success of the company.

Develop your leadership

If company culture is great, that will flow into leadership development, Havens said.

“The leadership pipeline is so critical to the future, to an organization sustaining itself and growing,” he said. “It goes beyond being proficient at a technical skill. It’s more about connecting with your team and managing them so they can reach their full potential and help the company grow.”

Havens said team members who have been with the company the longest don’t automatically make the best leaders.

“Throw seniority out the window and really talk about the results,” he said. “When somebody is reaching that stage and taking on that role and responsibility, give them that opportunity. It’s about intentional development.”  The challenge of working in an exponential world is raising the bar for leadership in every organization.

Succession/exit planning essential

If companies have effective leadership programs, it can help owners with their succession/exit planning. Growth itself will require new and stronger leaders, Havens said. Adding that the children may not always want to run the business when mom and dad retire. Family-owned businesses have much of their value tied up in the ability to transition leadership from generation to generation.

Other businesses have similar challenges whether it is preparing the next C suite executive or filling new and expanded leadership roles due to growth. Today, planning for succession requires a process that increases the pipeline of potential leaders and prepares them for the role.

Strategic planning can’t begin too early

Strategic planning is one of the top four challenges for business,” he said. “Every business model is being challenged.”  We are in exponential times where change is swirling around every business.

Being effective in strategic planning today involves so much more than setting goals and aspirations. “Once you understand what your aspiration, your goal is, you then have to start defining the challenges that will keep you from getting there,” Havens said. “You’ll find that you control or influence a lot of them.”

Being anticipatory helps us not only see new challenges, it also sets us up to see new opportunities that might affect our goals and future. Let’s guard against reactionary planning and really look into the crystal ball to see where we need to guide our businesses. The simple fast rate of change has raised the bar for effective strategic planning.

Call or message us today to discuss your strategic planning process, leadership challenges, exit planning or an assessment of your culture.  Our passion in HORNE Accelerate is helping businesses see and capture future opportunities as you prepare your organization for growth.

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