Growth Strategies, Leadership & the Email Narcotic

If your business growth is as strong as it ever was…..

Some of you may be wasting your time reading this.  If revenue growth is right on trend; if GTMs are increasing; if you’re able to achieve these by simply executing as you traditionally have with the same intensity; and if as you project out through market evolution you’re comfortable that everything will remain intact then take the next few minutes to read a recap of one of sports epic moments.  (Can you guess?  Remember…I’m from Boston.)

Growth Strategies, Leadership & the Email Narcotic image growth strategies create your own growthGrowth Strategies, Leadership & the Email NarcoticBut if growth isn’t quite as fast, or as profitable, or as easy, or as consistent or as predictable as it used to be, then read on.  After all, you already know the story of the NY Yankees epic 2004 ALCS collapse against the RedSox! the NY Yankees epic 2004 ALCS collapse against the RedSox! (that wasn’t a typo, it just sounds so sweet it bears repeating!)

And you’re not alone if you sense that growth isn’t quite the same as it used to be – in fact you’re in some pretty good company.  In the October 13 Fast Company (@FastCompany), Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi comments “Market growth alone doesn’t give you enough tailwind.  You have to create your own.”

Lonely and uncertain

But ‘creating your own’ growth means bold and expensive (at least additional expense) decisions.  It also risks being wrong – maybe embarrassingly so.  Anyone who has run a company understands exactly how you feel.  It’s easy to agree with Nooyi intellectually, but tougher to reconcile emotionally – especially when it comes to spending money on strategic initiatives that simply can’t be measured in quarters.  An informed decision is still a “leap of faith”.  But what’s the alternative to a bold, conscious decision?

Indecision.

And that’s a cancer.

“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.” –  Maimonides

Now, you may not identify that gnawing in your gut as the feeling of terror, but I know you’ve felt it.  And it sucks.  And while your obsessive cross-fit or pilates routine may take the edge off the angst, most folks self-medicate using today’s socially acceptable narcotic – email.

Growth Strategies, Leadership & the Email Narcotic image growth strategies global business development uncertaintyGrowth Strategies, Leadership & the Email NarcoticYou know the routine.  Come out of a two-hour meeting.  Spend 15 minutes addressing voice mail and the next hour working on email.  You delete most; send a few quick replies; and still have a couple that will require more in-depth attention.  Rinse & repeat and you head home in the evening with a “Gosh, another day with little to show for it.  It seems like all I did was work on email.” description for your spouse.  But deep inside, is there a little bit of “Thank goodness!  A full day of critical work on pressing business priorities out of the way…and big, scary strategy decisions postponed until I have some more clarity.”?  Be honest…it email never conveniently serves to anesthetize you against the terror of indecision regarding your growth strategies?

But you’re bigger than that.

Leader or manager?

In a recent Booz & Co (@boozcompany) blog post (@StratAndBiz) Eric McNulty (@RicherEarth) calls many managers onto the carpet “Let’s stop calling people leaders until they demonstrate that they truly deserve the appellation.”  Although in our modern lexicon “leader” and “manager” are frequently interchanged, they describe vastly different individuals.  There is sometimes functional overlap; but overlap isn’t implicit in either term.  They are distinct.

Where’s all this going?  Here’s the point.  When faced with uncertain revenue, a manager will implement one more iteration of, or an incrementally greater investment in, traditional solutions.  A leader, however, will look for a better avenue for growth strategies.

Let’s consider a couple of McNulty’s comments in the context of business growth strategies:

  • “Leadership is based on behavior and independent of role or rank” – the title on your business card doesn’t imbue you with particular growth strategies gravitas…are you taking appropriate steps to position your business proactively even if it feels vaguely uncomfortable?
  • “Leadership is more about the why than the what – …delivering on the quarterly numbers (makes a) manager.”  Vision and ability corral the energies of others toward mutually important, tough to attain goals…that’s leadership.

#SellMoreHere & #SellMoreThere

How’s this fit into a business development blog?  Because too many managers of B2B manufacturers are condemning viable businesses to mediocrity through pursuit of “more of the same just a little bit harder” approaches to business development.

One more magazine ad; one more sales training session; one more cold call are all metrics which the manager can measure.  But none are going to move the long-term business development needle…even if you toss a LinkedIn company page into the mix too.

It’s really pretty simple. B2B manufacturers have two reasonable avenues to exceptional growth in today’s global markets.

  1. embrace internet marketing – not just authorize a social media profile or two, but really commit to carefully planned, expertly executed and consistently managed content marketing initiative
  2. enter new markets – emerging & frontier markets offer much faster market growth.  Select a strategically diversified group of markets with low barriers, and the tailwind you create will propel you beyond the rapid local market growth

And either one of these growth strategies will require a leader.  Managers, sadly, won’t get it done.

Joshua Chamberlain

But here’s one of the neatest things about leadership.  Just because you’ve traditionally been a manager (or school teacher) doesn’t mean you can’t confidently lead when circumstances require it.

The story of the school teacher from ME who turned the tide of the Civil War offers a great leadership lesson.  And Andy Anderson is a great story-teller – folksy enough that the military analogy is secondary to the story of leadership.

It’s your business…and circumstances require it

Do something!”

Want some more practical yet aspirational musings?  Check out Josh Linkner’s blog for a weekly dose of “can do”/”must do” thoughts. (@JoshLinkner)

In the meantime take charge of your business growth strategy with a simple two pronged approach

#SellMoreHere and/or #SellMoreThere

Growth Strategies, Leadership & the Email Narcotic image e4d93910 48ca 4b3b 818f df8a084b115e2Growth Strategies, Leadership & the Email Narcotic

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