When I founded our company ten years ago, our vision was to create an enhanced service model in the manufacturing industry
We knew that making high quality products was a nominal expectation for our customers, but our team had the foresight to understand that globalization would require companies to create value on the service front to differentiate themselves. We made the requisite changes and the result was seven years of extraordinary growth.
As our business matured, we discovered that our value proposition had to evolve to continue competing and growing for the next business cycle. Consequently, in 2013, we augmented our value proposition with an operating culture that inspired great people to choose our company to work at and stay. We operationalized our five core values, refined our vision and worked hard to align culture with incentives and expectations. As a result, we’ve enjoyed a 98% retention rate since our founding and initiated a new phase of growth and diversification in a highly challenging industry.
We’re a learning organization and don’t stand still for very long!
In 2015, our leadership team wanted to make the transition from being “opportunistically reactionary” (which most small businesses are – they react well to new opportunities), to being a strategically driven enterprise. We invested into a sustainable process of establishing a data-driven, five-year strategy centered on the theme of value creation. We took courses at MIT, formed teams to zero in on specific deliverables and documented a well-defined strategy which we’re more than a year into implementing. We’re on course for real value creation, investing in new technologies, new industries and new people.
The evolution of our business has been an exciting journey and our team has become a dynamic learning organization. We have built an operating model that is vision and values driven, founded on the principles of service with a healthy and vibrant culture focused on executing a well-defined strategy.
As fun as the last ten years have been, I am more excited than ever about the next evolutionary phase we have just initiated. Our theme for 2017 and beyond is simple and powerful: leadership. It is my goal to grow exponentially in my own leadership abilities and to unlock the leadership potential in our key leaders while resourcing them to do the same with their teams.
I believe that the greatest, most abundant resource in life is human potential.
As a business leader, it’s my responsibility to help my team discover their leadership strengths, work at unlocking their capacity and give them room to grow. If we can get our leaders and their respective teams moving towards their cumulative potential, the result will be multiplication in company performance. Not incremental, but multiplicative value creation.
To guide us on this journey, we developed our own internal leadership framework, illustrated below:
As leaders, we have two primary internal stakeholders: the individuals on our teams and the teams made up of those individuals. Although there is overlap between the two, we train our leaders to approach every individual uniquely, looking for personalized desired outcomes. For this framework to produce results, your organization must have a clearly defined value proposition, a set of embedded values and beliefs and a documented strategy. Once all those pieces are in place (you can read several of my blogs covering these topics), you have the foundation to create a leadership framework that will produce multiplied performance and value.
I won’t go into too much detail on how this framework works because ideally, yours should be customized to your organization. However, we have found certain practices to work really well:
- CEO Coach. The CEO must be willing to set the example. I have scheduled monthly meetings with key leaders and we use an internal system known as the “P1 Leadership Matrix” to map out our coaching sessions. Each session is documented, with our discussions and themes used as an outline for my leaders to implement with their teams.
- Well defined leadership guidelines. We use our P1 Leadership Matrix to illustrate what effective leadership looks like at our company. This helps everyone map out a plan to move in the right direction. It’s qualitative, and offers a good framework for working collectively.
- Operational playbooks. We have disseminated our five-year strategy into one-year playbooks that include structured teams, goals and objectives, with perfect alignment to our overall company strategy and desired financial outcomes. The playbooks provide direction for our teams, with our leaders guiding them to fulfillment.
In January, we roll out the playbook for all our members. Each leader is then required to meet with their people once per month, using the P1 Leadership Matrix as a guide. They document each conversation and agree on clear actions for the following month. We also hold a leadership meeting every Friday to discuss performance to the playbook, utilizing a set of succinct operating metrics. It is their responsibility to then take the data and information from that meeting and disseminate it to their own teams the following week.
So, in a nutshell: using our Leadership Framework – with the CEO leading the way – we have created a rhythm to developing individual leaders through coaching and unlocking their unique potential. At the same time, we’re building them into teams, with playbooks to guide their actions.
How about you as a CEO – does your business have a solid leadership development strategy? Please share in the comments below.