If only you had seen this coming…
Your business keeps you energized and on your toes. You’ve been enjoying uninterrupted growth, and are now being recognized by peers and competitors in your industry. You’re expanding into new markets, introducing new products and services, even beating your own projections. Sure, there are the normal growing pains; maybe you have even started to think to yourself, this is the biggest team, company or division I’ve ever led.
This should be a time of celebration. Leading is a great opportunity to expand your influence and make a positive difference. You are one step closer to creating the personal wealth and financial freedom that allows you turn your daydreams into daily realities.
Things are going so well that it’s actually hard to imagine how this current ‘up and to the right’ trend could ever end. But, you are smart enough to know that nothing stays the same — you must constantly be innovating, developing and introducing new products, building new relationships and expanding into new markets.
So, on you go. As you continue to grow, you become aware of some stress fractures in the foundation of your team and processes but you chalk them up, once again, to growing pains and instead fix your gaze outward towards the future, as if increased sales and new products or services alone will eventually take you to the next level. In the meantime, you unknowingly delay decisions about the overly obvious and embarrassingly simple repairs your business desperately needs to mature and stabilize.
Fast forward a bit and sure enough, those stress fractures, or “growing pains,” have finally begun to have an impact. What used to seem so simple and straightforward has become complex and even chaotic. Your daydreams of success and financial freedom have turned into feelings of isolation and gut-wrenching decisions.
And it’s killing you.
But, in fact, you shouldn’t be surprised by this turn of events. I have studied growth and success for over 20 years, with thousands of leaders and their organizations. One common thread that I have seen countless times is:
NOTHING kills faster than success!
How do I know this? Because over the past two decades I have made a fascinating discovery. There are patterns that every organization in every industry deals with – what I call The Business Growth Cycle. No matter where they are on that journey, or what the industry or mission or product, I have found the same 12 critical roadblocks to growth. In fact, I call them The 12 Warning Signs of Success, because they are a direct byproduct of some earlier success.
If you know these warning signs are there and you heed them, the way forward for you and your organization is sure to become more stable and imminently more predictable. Yes, it is possible to see around corners as a leader and predict the problems before they show up in the results. I work with leaders who are doing just that, and they and their organizations are better off for it.
You can normalize your journey to growth and success, both as a leader and as an organization, by becoming a predictive leader and shedding a light on the sweet little lies that success will tell you. They’re beguiling and believable, but they are simply not true.
Let’s take a look at just one of those sweet little lies- problem solving.
We LOVE problem solvers, don’t we? We seek them out, we hire them, and we reward them like crazy.
But, here’s the truth: PROBLEM SOLVING is time consuming, mind–numbing work. It interrupts us from our routine, takes us off course for a while, and keeps us from marking through the items we put on our To-Do list every day that actually help us make progress.
On the other hand, PROBLEM PREDICTING is different. It’s easier and it’s elegant. It’s a less clunky vehicle. The tires on this leadership vehicle are round, not square. Yes, there are still bumps. But, they happen less often, they hurt less, and you can see them coming far enough in advance that you just might miss them altogether.
And the truth is there have been thousands of companies and leaders that we can learn from. Success leaves a footprint for us to follow. So does failure.
So, watch for the warning signs of success. Know them well, and you and your team will get to spend the bulk of your collective intelligence and focus on creating new products and services to help your clients and change the world, not solving problems that have already been solved thousands of times in other organizations.
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