Companies need growth-oriented leaders. People who seek growth for the organization, not just personal growth.
Growth is a constant pursuit for companies. Finding new customers. Creating new products for existing customers. Perhaps what they need are growth-oriented leaders who stimulate innovation, understand customers and somehow find a way to get things done? You recognize these people when you see them.
Let’s call them “Growth Junkies”
They have a relentless pursuit of the new and different but are grounded in business sense. They constantly try new ideas, find different competitive waters to swim in, create high return for minimal resource investment and get people energized around the new and different. They break new ground without breaking too many eggs in the process.
In a sense, these growth junkies might be viewed as the new high potentials in the new economy. And finding and keeping growth leaders is as critical to a company’s growth strategy than any capital plan, M&A transaction or other “strategic initiative”.
So how can companies large and small, from Apple and Facebook to high tech start-ups, better identify and develop their growth junkies?
Here are some starter ideas:
1) Redefine your beliefs about what “high potential” means. Think of high potentials as those who are truly capable of driving business growth, not those who exhibit generic “personal growth” potential. Consider how adept they can become at innovating, finding new sources of growth, leveraging the organization and engaging people in the new and different. These are the skills of high potentials in a sluggish economy. Owens Corning CEO Mike Thaman prefers to call it “rate of growth”, not potential. He’s on to something there…
2) Fine tune your approach to identifying “Growth Junkies”. By definition, assessing potential is less about one’s prior accomplishments, and more about the ability to apply past experience to a new, growth challenged economic environment. Companies like Korn/Ferry have assessments that measure a person’s learning agility. These are good tools to help identify your growth leaders – especially those people who might be under the radar.
3) Deploy growth junkies differently than “high performers.” Your growth junkies are restless. The Corporate Executive Board found that “Development by Manager” is the #1 factor in employee satisfaction for individual career advancement. Put your growth junkies into new and challenging assignments and give them room to run. If you don’t utilize them, someone else will.
Companies seek growth. And they can leverage the assets already available to them by nurturing their growth junkies. The key is to find out who they are—and keep them.