“Becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.” – Michelle Obama
Winning and Losing has been the fundamental metric of success in a business. Don’t we all agree? Companies are talking about “being No.1” or “better than my competition,” etc. Rightly so, because as humans, this is what we are taught – win or lose from an early stage of being.
Well, times are changing. People are evolving, and mindsets are evolving. Today we talk about enabling growth – a growth that does not necessarily mean an upward trend in numbers (eventually, yes). It is more than winning and losing but a continuous evolution of a company in terms of innovation, falling and getting up, creating opportunities, creating solutions for many world problems, and more.
With my years’ of experience working with various companies, including the new age start-ups, I go by these crucial and very fundamentals of business growth. Is this the playbook of business growth? Well, these are humane factors that can enable long-term and long-lasting growth.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it,” Simon Sinek so rightly said.
The product or service that you bring out to the world to sell will have to be trusted by your target audience. Now, let me ask you this – do you and your team, to the most recent joinee, trust your product/service? The answer is probably a strong yes for the bunch closest to the founders or management. For the rest, it could be a passion project or just a means to pay their bills.
Why is it essential to have trust, you ask? For starters, you won’t need a marketing team or a fancy celebrity to promote if you get this right because every employee you have is your brand ambassador (well, you might still need a marketing team).
When Apple launched the iPod, they didn’t talk about the product’s features. What they sold to the world is thousands of songs in your pocket. When Nike launched their new Jordans (oh, such a huge fan), they didn’t talk about how comfortable those shoes are. They said they are for Champions!
It is the WHY that makes all the difference. And knowing the WHY is what brings in trust because you can relate to the bigger objective of the company – you cannot, NOT look at the bigger picture. When this change comes to the newest entry in the organization or even the junior most on the ladder, they will be able to find their value and contribute to the bigger objective. That brings trust. That brings growth because, every day, your team works towards it.
Headcount vs. Heart count
We often don’t like to use words like “Hearts,” “Emotions,” and “Feelings” when it comes to businesses. While I acknowledge the importance of trending revenue numbers, who’s bringing in those numbers is often a fact that we forget (sometimes, conveniently). Unless you have robots and machines running your company, companies are run by folks like you and me. And when I say you and me, I am not taking into account our years of experience or the degrees we hold; it is humans with hearts, emotions, and feelings. I will remember that while I grow my business!
Building a trusting team has never been so crucial, especially at a time when employees are no longer employees but volunteers. How comfortable they are to be themselves in the organization keeps good people with an organization to keep contributing to your growth. Thereby building a team which can trust you (the company) with everything that they want to.
I have been running very large teams in the last few years of my career and is spread across different locations. Trust me, trusting people with even as basic as discipline, at times, has been extremely difficult for me. There was this one time we were in the middle of a crisis situation, and we had to deliver something within a stipulated time frame, or we lose that account at a pilot stage. Stress levels knew no limits for everyone involved. The team leader of the project (mind the importance of the role) did not turn up one fine morning, and we lost all connections with him. Pressure on the team was so high that they were, sort of, blaming the guy (who did not have a reputation of abandonment) for his disappearance in the middle of an important delivery. Before it could reach the level where everyone gets worried about him (post the blaming), the man turns up, not looking his best self. Not one word is asked or said, he gets to his workstation, works with his team, and bloody well delivers the project (might I say, successfully).
The story just got started when I asked him his whereabouts, and he mentioned that he had to take his cat to the doctor. Not himself, not his friend or another human being, but his cat. (Ya! Ya! I am not a cat person). I didn’t know better and I didn’t react, only to realise later, that this guy trusted his manager enough to tell the truth. As a leader, I felt like I have arrived.
Is your team comfortable not to lie? If the answer is yes, they would hardly leave you (unless it is for an insane amount of money) and keep contributing to your growth.
I am not going to the extreme of opening a Champaign bottle every time a failure hits your door (while I know of companies who do it). I am talking about not blaming people for a failed project(read this as finding a scapegoat) but learning from it. That calls for a celebration.
Various other factors might influence a win or loss. What you cannot take away from the project is the innovation and the diligence to make it work with whatever best you know. Imagine an environment where people are not scared of innovating and falling and learning and innovating again. What do you know, we might have found a solution for a lower air quality scale in Delhi.
Fear of failure is a significant bottleneck of innovation. And that comes from organizations that cannot take failures as learnings, but just mere failures. If you are scared to make that little change in your product or that tweak in your service levels and there is no innovation, how do you grow anyway?
I am the best!
Damn right, you are!
Have you thought about how you can remain the best? My answer is competition but different from the way you think. Ok, let me stir the pot a little and ask you, how are you better than your competition? Most likely, the answer will be that you have a better product, team, or better something than “xyz” company, which you consider your competition. And there goes the journey to make better products and services with this new and better strategic team than your competition. This is the chase to get better than your competition! Everything seems right, and you do get better.
The competition here is not the other company but yourself. Ta-da!!
The competition between Apple and Microsoft is something the world cannot forget. While Apple was focused on creating and innovating, Microsoft kept chasing Apple and launched products to answer, sometimes an iPod or an Ipad (some of those MS products were good). Look who’s the winner here!
You compete with yourself, not your competition!
We often forget about taking care in the long race of making a start-up successful or taking your company to the next level. Elon Musk says “Work From Home” doesn’t work. I agree; it won’t, unless you tell people that they are valued, and that they are contributing to the bigger agenda of changing the world for the better. Oh, by the way, it also helps you pay your bills!