5 Keys To Leading Your Company During High-Stakes Growth

With growth comes competition, which means that hiring companies are likely targeting your best and most promising team members. The talent war is back.

I've got good news and bad news.

The good news is that the economy is finally looking up. A recent survey of Silicon Valley executives showed that 63% added jobs last year, and the majority also say they'll add jobs this year. The unemployment rate is 7.8%. Business leaders are rosy on the economy, and we're finally starting to experience some growth again—the recovery has begun.

Unfortunately, this growth isn't all risk-free.

This brings me to the bad news: Of the CEOs who were surveyed, 69% say their biggest problem right now is recruiting and retaining talented people.

With growth comes competition, which means that hiring companies are likely targeting your best and most promising team members: The talent war is back. As a result, it's increasingly important to foster a supportive team that will show long-term commitment and loyalty—something you didn't have to worry about quite as much before the recession hit.

This growth, then, is high stakes. But it also brings high-stakes opportunity: During this time of growth, when the market is so dynamic, leaders and laggards can change places. In no time at all, new companies can grab the attention and investments of stakeholders and see explosive growth.

These opportunities are everywhere. In fact, you have to look at the world a bit differently than you did when we went into this recession, taking into account the global opportunities that are available to you, and not just the local ones.

The world's economic leader board has shifted significantly. Chinese private-equity funds, for instance, are currently looking to invest billions of dollars in high-quality companies in the West. Are you ready to benefit?

There are five things you need to do if you are to lead for high-stakes growth:

  1. Hire and lead a spirited team. It's important to hire and manage for spirit, specifically teamwork and heart. While leadership and technical skills are also critical, employees who have spirit are more motivated and engaged, and are willing to invest more in the success of the company.
  2. Expand your cultural agility. Cultural agility is not about making it easier for you to work with other people—it's about making it easier for others to work with you. This applies not only to leaders, but also to entire organizations. Expand your own and your team's cultural agility to avoid costly missteps and instead transform the potential you hold.
  3. Cultivate charisma. Born with it or not, any leader can cultivate his or her charisma by infusing meaning into the results the team is creating. With my help, one of mine client was able to make his message so compelling that he was able to turn around a failing company.
  4. Avoid the success trap. When a rising tide is raising all boats, as in the recovery, it's not enough to simply float along. To outperform and outmaneuver the competition, leaders must get their teams to shorten plateaus, or periods of stagnation, and speed up the velocity of growth. This requires innovation.
  5. Execute for innovation. Creativity demands a highly functioning organization in order to have the space to create—it doesn't systematically happen when fighting fires. Only creativity that is executed becomes innovation. Execution must be embedded into every aspect of the strategy process in order for the organization to reach optimal performance.
If you're looking to lead in this period of high-stakes growth, pick one of these areas to focus on improving in your daily work. Do you want to improve your own charisma? Do you think you might be seeing a success trap? It's no longer enough for companies to simply grow—you have to grow faster, more creatively, and more sustainably to outmaneuver your competition. Are you up to the challenge?

Management consultant, speaker and author, Michelle Randall is the leading expert in culturally agile leadership. Michelle’s clients include executives and their teams at Fortune 500 companies, not-for-profit organizations and members of the US House of Representatives and legislative leaders throughout the United States. Follow her @enrichingleader.

[Image: Flickr user Corey Thompson]