Three decades of growth leadership for you to rely on

Growth and change are inextricably linked and in order to grow beyond where you have already taken your organisation to, you recognise that some things will need to change. Kick-starting the next leg of your journey will require the talent within your own organisation, but may also need a guide who knows exactly what your growth journey will entail. You may have already considered this and have been looking outside of your business for specialist support.

To many leaders though, the idea of using external input is unthinkable and unnecessary. I have to say that I agree with you up to a point. As I have always believed that you should only hire external specialists to support you, if they can bring something unique to your journey that is not already available within your own talent pool.

By which I specifically mean that they can bring specialist knowledge, expertise, insight, products and solutions with them. Not only that, but they will also apply these to help you and your team to achieve your performance goals and ambitions in the most efficient way.

I would always say that, if you can achieve your goals with your own people, then I would honestly recommend that you continue as you are. However, in my three decades of experience I have noted that very few companies can reach new levels of performance without new insight, experience and solutions from outside resources.

Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink

On the business growth journey, there are a number of support options available to you. But feedback from my clients is that they feel like the Ancient Mariner, surrounded by readymade solutions and theories, all of which don’t quite fit what they need. They try and impose their worldview on your organisation, as they endeavour to shape your business so that it conforms and bends to fit their theoretical model.

There are two fundamental things wrong with this approach. Firstly, it is the uniqueness of your organisation and team that have gotten you this far, so to discount that and force you to behave in a conventional way would be beyond reckless. Secondly, the world fundamentally changed in 2020. The old rules no longer apply, so at best you and your growth journey will be as experimental to the traditional mind-sets as it will be to you.

Whilst investors, accountants, business schools, growth hubs, mentors, even family and friends have a voice in this conversation true support can be found with those of us who have decades of experience and a proven approach that is bespoke to you and your organisation and totally fits with the new world view.

10 things to do, before you make your final choice

Choosing the right adviser for you and your organisation is one of the toughest decisions you will ever make as a leader.

Get it right and the benefits are immediate and considerable. Get it wrong and the cost to your credibility, reputation and performance will be immeasurable.

If you take nothing else from this site, please take these ten pieces of advice I give to all of my clients when they are considering using external input:

1. Get to really know them

Spend time getting to know the character of the individual and the values of the organisation. I would say that this should take a minimum of three sessions.

2. Let your team meet them

Introduce them to your people. Use this as part of a test drive.

3. Listen to the feedback

Observe, listen and learn from the feedback from your colleagues.

4. Check them out

Check their expertise, track record and experience. Make sure it is relevant and useful to your organisation.

5. Ask about their successes

Ask about the processes involved in delivering success for other clients.

6. Ask about their failures

Ask about their failures too. Find our what factors contributed to them. Make sure you (and they) fully understand what went wrong.

7. Ask to speak to their other clients

Talk to their previous clients. If they say no, do not hire them, ever!

8. Research them

Review any publications and whitepaper articles linked to their promise.

9. Deep dive into the detail

Discuss with them their ability to ‘practice what they preach’. On the growth journey this should include topics such as risk, challenges and growth.

10. Discuss their journey

How can they help you, if they haven’t actually been on a growth journey of their own? Get them to discuss their own business journey, including the pain points along the way and their coping strategies.
The discussions held, the feedback given and the answers to your questions will make it easier for you to find the right trusted adviser for the right moment of your journey.

Don’t be timid in your interrogation. The correct fit is vital your growth success and only comes from a forensic challenge of the individual or organisation. They need to prove their to ability help you and your organisation succeed.
It’s also worth remembering that, on the growth journey you may need a constant stream of trusted advisers to compliment your team.
Their insight, advice, experience and practical solutions are important to your success. However, that’s dependent upon their ability to dovetail into the exact needs of your business as well as having a full understanding of the challenges you will face on your growth journey.