27 Mar

Are You Sure You Want to Grow? Core Capability Development Stories by Ubong Ekpo


I thought about the millionaires’ story at that business seminar over a period of time. After later watching a talk by Gerard Adolph from Booz and Company at a business conference in Chicago some time later, I was able to see a vital link.

Mr. Adolph was part of a team of consultants that consulted billion-dollar clients on measuring the readiness of a business to grow and viability of growth opportunities. He cited the need for first developing a strong core around its people, capabilities and vision in what Gerard called a focused ‘way-to-play’. An art the mastery of which many businesses find increasingly difficult. I'll briefly discuss how these correlate at an individual and a team level. After all, its effective people that make effective leaders, teams and organizations. When I grow, my team and organization grows as a result.

Are You Sure You Want to Grow?

He asked the question: “Are you sure you want to grow?” Often the answer to why we seem to have run out of growth where we are is that we get distracted by some attractive opportunity on the horizon: “Someone there is making money and I want to go chase that too,” or, “I’m not sure I can continue to expand doing what I am doing.” It is wise to take a hard look at whether there are naturally occurring growth opportunities in your profession, business or area. Identify growth close to you and usually, that is what you should be going after instead of chasing something far away. The further away from you it is, the harder it is going to be to execute and pull off. There are times in life when it would be wise to reach for an opportunity that would stretch us. Each person needs to personally weigh the circumstances and opportunities based on their knowledge of self, desires, goals and so on. Some opportunities are really once in a lifetime. If we have been developing ourselves and focusing on the most important, these become easier to identify and take hold of. You can expand your viewpoint of your current skills and vocation by analyzing growth opportunities around you. You can create such an environment, uncovering new possibilities by making some slight adjustments. You first begin creating a growth environment in your own mind. This is important when you do not believe you are in a stimulating growth environment. However, if thinking patterns and habits are left unchecked, it is possible for a person to be in the best growth environments and fail.

Permission Granted to Grow Your Thinking

The good news is this. You don’t need permission from anyone to start growing your own mind. This is the first necessary growth environment you need. It will require time and consistency in learning about yourself and others that have excelled in areas you dream about. From the very beginning of his investing career, Warren Buffett would read 600, 750, or 1,000 pages a day. He said in an interview: “Look, my job is essentially just corralling more and more and more facts and information, and occasionally seeing whether that leads to some action,” Mr. Buffet has lived a focused life, searching for viable as well as actionable financial and investment ideas.

“We don’t read other people’s opinions,” he says. “We want to get the facts, and then think.” He created an environment for his mind to flourish which influences his decisions and the people or environments he attracts to himself. The result: an external environment of affluence. The mind needs targets to focus. Left on its own, it gathers unnecessary clutter as we go through the day. A lot of that clutter hides the potentially valuable and liberating thoughts from view. Unsuccessful people go in too many directions as a result of not filtering information that comes at them. Successful people focus on the main thing. They also spend more time in thought than action compared to their average counterparts. They go through the barrage of thoughts and ideas and ask:”What’s here to celebrate? What’s here that will make my life better? What’s here that delivers value to me and others around me? Then they turn good thoughts to growth opportunities.
Do you Really Want Your Team to Grow?

Growing your team has a lot to do with its learning agility and the mind-sets, tool-sets and skill-sets needed to reach a defined vision. So as a leader or manager, here's a quick test? What's the vision of your team and the organization? Is it clear? What will it look like practically for your team? Is it overloaded daily activities or are there clear priorities amidst the turbulence of daily operations? Who are you and what part do you play in fulfilling the vision? Many leaders seem to be unclear about where exactly their organizations are going and we have the turbulence of modern business, volatility of markets, political and economic climates to blame. Organizations face a radically shifting context for the workforce, the workplace, the world of work and of course the markets. These shifts have changed the rules for nearly every organizational people practice, from learning to management to the definition of work itself. Welcome to the twilight zone. Too much going on? Yes, but if we don't know where we are headed, how can we lead others? What will the eventual growth look like and where exactly are we leading them? There are lots of things that leaders cannot change but at least you can set strategy and follow up on execution. Checking your team's readiness for growth can be subjected to a simple process:

First, we have sit-down with leadership to really understand what the business is about. Not what it used to be about six months ago before the takeover or the new leadership was put in place, but what it is currently about. We then align our vision and strategy as leaders to the organization's goals. As you drop down an organization, you will see that these can change in form but ultimately, the battles have to win the war.

Second, we define the needed capabilities to drive our talent development and leadership pipeline towards future challenges and vision.

Third, we now ask ourselves what opportunities or stretch exercises will help your team achieve the set vision. The entire process summarized above is what I have enabled fast-growing IT organizations to do and I prefer to think of strategy and execution in line with where the organization really wants to be. We then work together to make sure that there is a match between capabilities and opportunities to ensure leaders and teams experience meaningful and measurable growth.

Again, the question is, are you sure you want to grow?

You can find more on this and living a focused life of growth from my book which has high ratings from two Amazon Top100 and Top 500 reviewers on Kindle here: https://www.amazon.com/If-can-Just-Focus-Success-ebook/dp/B00N7JCJJG/ or order paperbacks directly by contacting Ubong Ekpo.

About the Book: Is focus just about priorities and the right time management principles to being productive? How about fixing the fundamental reason why productivity and time management principles don't usually work? Do you know how to connect a busy daily Schedule with life goals, or have you had a busy week lately, yet knew inside that your life isn't really moving forward?