Posted on May 6, 2018 by Phil Elworth

Driving your business towards success requires leadership and not just your own.  The leadership in your organization needs to grow and change in order for your company or organization to grow.  How about you, has your leadership ability grown or changed over the past couple years?  Or are you leading your company the way you always have?  By making all the decisions?

Mark Miller in his book Chess Not Checkers describes this in a very interesting way.  He says in checkers; all the pieces are interchangeable.  They all move the same direction.  This is a good way of describing a business in its early stage of growth.  At that time, you as the owner can make all the decisions telling everyone just what they need to do (checkers).  This form of leadership will work for a while, but as you grow it will stop working and actually interfere with growth.

As mentioned in the first paragraph if you wish to grow as an organization your leadership will also have to grow, both yours and your team.  According to Miller there are 4 ingredients necessary for growth to occur:

1.  As an organization you need to bet on leadership.  Growing leaders grow organizations.  Your capacity to grow is determined by your leadership capacity.  You do this by:

  • Identify emerging leaders then invest in their leadership. 
  • Create a feedback plan for these leaders
  • Create stretch assignments for these leaders
  • Close their skill gap (train them on the skills they need to be successful)
  • Use a coach to help the improvement process.      

2.  Act as one in the organization-Everyone in the organization should be rowing the same direction.

  •  Set clear direction by answering the questions, why do we exist as an organization; what does success look like?  What values shape what we do and how we do it?
  • Get full buy in from your leadership team.  If they are not all on board maybe you need to consider some change in the makeup of the team.
  • Over communicate the message and direction of the company to everyone in the company.

3.       Win the hearts of your employees. In Chess unlike Checkers, all the pieces are not the same; this is also true of your employees.  Everyone is different and there for a different reason.  Do you know why your employees are there?  What their dreams and aspirations are?  You win their hearts by engaging their minds.  You do this by adding value to their lives.  How, by asking them.

4.       Focus on Execution.  The best strategy in the world will not work without proper execution.  Execution is about clarity around the goal you are tying to achieve; What steps will you need to take to achieve the goal; you need to track your progress with a scorecard; you need accountability around the goal.  All business must be based on systems and not people, you invest in the people to run the systems.

So, what are your next steps?  Do you wish to continue playing checkers and thus restrict the growth of your business; or do you want to play Chess which requires strategy and utilizing all the key players in your organization?

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