“Why didn’t I crack this earlier?”

Today, business leaders are judged by their success or failure in achieving sustained, profitable growth.

Often I meet CEOs – the aggressive go getters – who have expanded their service offerings, ventured into new markets, acquired new clients and hired new teams. Unfortunately, they soon face challenges such as attrition, low employee morale, complaints of partiality, poor service quality and loss of customer confidence. I can recount several stories where companies have lost business because of derailed projects. Organizations had to either complete those projects at their own cost or keep them in limbo. In an extreme case, a company had to face a lawsuit from one of their clients for project delays.

Understanding the implications, CEOs quickly turn their attention inwards, roll up their sleeves and attempt to tackle these challenges. Unfortunately, they don’t ask for help. By stepping outside their signature strengths, these CEOs not only fail to resolve the challenges but also fail to capitalize on new growth opportunities outside the firm. Soon projects dry up and they are struggling to get additional business. They inadvertently set a downward spiral when they actually planned to take their organization to the next level of growth.

Please note that we actually started this article on a good note of aggressive CEOs entering new markets, acquiring new clients & hiring new teams. Initially, this appeared to be a good growth story.

What went wrong? Does this story sound familiar to you? Does it actually describe your organization? Then, you probably haven’t prepared your organization for growth.

What can you do differently?

The first step in preparing your organization for growth is to create a growth mindset. Leaders need to work hard at transforming their organizational mindset much before anything else.  How people think determines their behaviour, the decisions they make and how they work together as teams. Lasting change happens only when leaders influence the thinking of their organization – in other words, the very DNA of the organization. It determines the culture of the organization at the most fundamental level.

Here’s a story when we had to challenge our own mindset…

A few years ago, we were sitting in an “Empowered Leadership” workshop organized for our clients. The facilitator wanted the participants to align the pieces of a puzzle in a specific order.  It took one of the participants just a few seconds to align them; however, it took me some more time to crack this. I asked myself “Why didn’t I crack this earlier than or even as quickly as the others?” Fortunately, I did not dismiss this as a mere game or a fun exercise. I continued to reflect. I realized that I was operating in a linear thought paradigm & not laterally or “out-of-the box”.  This explained the ‘delay’ in cracking those puzzles. Well, you might say it was very obvious & move on. Fortunately, I didn’t stop there. I asked myself another critical question – As a CEO, what were some of the decisions I made recently? How many of those decisions were a result of a linear thought pattern?

I was shocked by the revelation!

A case in point: I had successfully launched several products & services for my previous employers over a decade. Of course, there were a few failures, but with this combined rich experience, I thought all I had to do was encourage, motivate and push the team a little harder to gain market share.  To top it, this was an organization I co-founded.

With this shift in mindset, we took a serious view of market needs, our passion, our purpose / mission, our signature strengths, core competencies, our destiny/ vision, leadership style, and more.

We had to change!

Our conclusions required us to change many aspects of our business. It did cost us in terms of time, money & people. We had to let go of some people who could not evolve with us*. The transformation was painful but necessary. We had to evolve else we would have continued to struggle/survive as just another player in the market or, much worse, we could have got knocked out of business!

When did this start? Only after we realized that continuing in our outdated thinking models would end in a disaster. As Marshall Goldsmith says, “What got you here will not get you there!”

How do we go about changing the organization’s mindset? Is it enough to just change our thought paradigm? What next? We will start exploring in our subsequent articles what is required to script a good growth story.

In the relentless pursuit of growth, how often do we challenge the limitations of our existing belief systems/ thought paradigms?

Do share your stories on how you reinvented yourself, your team or your organization.

Looking forward…
Ronald Raj S J

P.S: * Each one of the employees have successfully transitioned to organizations that match their
skill-sets. Most of them continue to stay in touch.



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