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Growing a business: Double, double, toil and trouble

Stephen Balzac | Nov. 19, 2014
Every company wants to experience rapid growth, but if you’re not prepared, you could be in for a lot of pain.

Leadership also undergoes some pretty significant changes as a company grows. If it doesn't, you've got problems. A few dedicated people can work very well together without any formal leadership. Nonetheless, even in the most egalitarian team, someone is always in charge, even if that person doesn't always know it. On one team, everyone pointed to a fellow named Bob when asked who the leader was; Bob, however, was quite convinced that no one was in charge.

As a company grows, however, this sort of informal leadership can become more than a little problematic. That doesn't mean that you need to jump to a massive hierarchy and strict titles like "Software Engineer I," "Software Engineer II" and so on. The trick here is to recognize what leadership means: No matter how charismatic the CEO, no matter how energetic, he can only do so much. The company needs people whose job is to convey the CEO's vision and make it personal for individual team members. Whether you call them leaders, managers or lieutenants, the role is the same: Keep the troops inspired, focused and engaged; bring out the most in them. Where will those leaders come from? Whether you promote from within or hire from without, they need to know how to inspire high performance with your people and in your corporate culture. Leadership is the infrastructure upon which growth rests. One of the biggest problems growing companies have is finding, or developing, effective leadership.

Rapid growth can be a blessing or a curse. How well you avoid the potholes along the way will determine whether doubling leads to excitement and success or toil and trouble.


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