“I started this company four years ago. We’ve grown but not nearly as quickly as I envisioned, and honestly, we really can’t grow right now because we just don’t seem to have the processes and procedures in place and I feel I’m stretched to the breaking point. I see exactly where we need to be going and how we can blow away the competition; I just can’t figure out how to get there.”
Although that’s a direct quote from a recent conversation with the owner of service business in Omaha, I’ve had that same conversation with more small and mid-size business owners and CEO’s than I can remember. They believe they have the right product or service, the right market, and the vision of where they want to go and wonder why things don’t seem to be falling in line.
Obviously there could be a number of common, identifiable issues that are hindering their growth and success—and their usually are a number of them. But in many cases I find most issues emanate from a much more fundamental issue within the organization—leadership.
We often think of leadership as a single thing—the ability to get people to follow, to work towards a common goal. Although that definition works on many levels, within an organization there are three types of leadership that are indispensible to create a rapidly growing, dynamic organization. Although each leadership type is needed in mature organizations, they are mandatory in any organization that seeks rapid growth and expansion. Without these three leaders, organizations tend to struggle, and if they grow at all, growth tends to be slow and painful.
The Visionary Leader
At the heart of any rapid growth organization is a visionary; one who envisions what could and should be. The visionary leader works more from inspiration and imagination than from the practical. Boldness and the impossible are at the forefront not limited by conventional thinking or industry norms. The visionary leader wants to create more than simply build; she wants to make something that hasn’t been before rather than simply make the existing better. The visionary leader sees the future and wants to create it NOW.
The Managerial Leader
Vision is wonderful but useless without someone who can take the vision and implement the structure that will allow the organization to turn the vision of what should be into what is. Sometimes the visionary leader is quite capable as the managerial leader also; very often though that isn’t the case. Often the very traits that make the visionary leader the visionary leader hinder him or her from also being the managerial leader. Their ability to envision what isn’t, that is the imagination and ability to think unconventionally, stands in opposition to the down to earth practicality needed in the managerial leader. The managerial leader is more than simply a good manager; the managerial leader has the ability to take a vision and turn it into processes and structures that move it from the realm of possible into the practical.