2019 is off and running, with two great months of hitting our goals in the rear-view mirror. As CEO of RevLocal, I find myself seeking answers to important questions, such as what is most important now?
Fortunately, we are facing good challenges — the kind that come with 30 percent annual growth and the addition of over 100 staff in 2018.
We plan to grow even more in the coming year and will surely face new challenges. The market we serve and the brave souls that have cast their lots in with our company, look to our leadership team for answers.
I'm supposed to have all the answers, right? Well, the truth is that there is no monopoly on knowledge in this corner office.
I once heard the phrase that “Leaders are believers” and from that perspective, I am most certainly a leader.
I believe that our best days are still ahead, I believe we are providing real value to the business owners who need a trusted digital marketing partner and I believe in our people and our culture helps us win every day.
Every great company must find answers to its strategic and tactical challenges. With growth comes the exposure of hidden weaknesses and new obstacles, but how do you overcome them? Read on to find out!
Do Leaders Have All the Answers?
As leaders, we must be about finding answers. The answers to how we maximize opportunities, who we need to add to our team and how we overcome new challenges can make or break our future.
I reflected on the question of how we go about finding answers and I wanted to share a few simple ideas that we try to employ in our business.
Mindset at Work
First, I think about the mindset that I strive to apply to work every day. Do I respond to the day’s events or do I merely react to them?
Given that we’ve grown to a staff of over four hundred in just eight years, it feels like we are a different company every year. We no longer have the luxury of dreaming up an idea and implementing it in a matter of days.
Our world used to require daily change as we built our business. We had to innovate quickly through an iterative process that brought us the success our clients and business needed to survive.
During that part of our journey, it was easy to get emotional and react to the disappointments and successes every day. Every lost client or staff member who found another opportunity caused an emotional reaction.
I have learned that in order to keep moving forward, reactions can be quite problematic. The outcome is more effective and those I lead can move forward when I have a healthy response. Don’t flinch, challenges come and go and good leaders are ready to respond — not react.
What enables a person to respond rather than react? I believe it is an acquired skill. Some of us tend to be more emotional, so it’s harder for some than others.
Perhaps as a competitive person, I have that tendency, so I practice a responsive mindset. For me, that often requires that I sleep on an issue before responding.
I also employ the concept that the Focus 3 team shares regarding E + R = O (Event + Response = Outcome). We cannot change many of the events that happen in life, but we can control our response.
The quality of our response determines the quality of the outcome. Bad events, disappointments and failures do happen, but professionals develop their “R factors” (responses) to improve outcomes.
Meetings Don't Need to Be Boring
Second, I have come to realize that many of the meetings I facilitate are boring and unengaging. I am not a fan of meetings. I sometimes view them as a necessary evil in business.
As our business has grown, I have adopted a cadence of communication that requires monthly meetings to keep everyone in sync. The consistent communication keeps everyone on the same page, but as we have grown, so have the number of people in the meetings. This can lead to a lack of full engagement and diminishing collaboration.
As a leader seeking answers, I believe that effective meetings are essential. We must gain the input of the different perspectives within our team to create better solutions to the obstacles we face.
As I discerned how to improve our meetings, I leaned on Patrick Lencioni’s book Death By Meeting to modify the way we operate. As a result, we are focused on the key ingredient to engagement — generating conflict.
As Patrick points out, we turn off the television show or movie that doesn’t have conflict early on; it loses our attention.
Our meetings cannot be just a summary of everything that we’re up to, they need to have some drama and debate in order to gain clarity and draw out the best insights from everyone.
A Culture You Can Trust
Finally, finding answers in a growing company requires a culture that is built on a foundation of trust. Healthy relationships need trust in order to be authentic and honest.
In our culture, we work hard to maintain the trust that allows us to have healthy conflict and speak truth to one another. When the business is growing rapidly, it’s hard for everyone to keep their bearings on what is most important now.
Many times, the way we operated just a few weeks ago is no longer effective due to the addition of more clients and more teammates.
The foundation of trust allows us to challenge one another to change and face our flaws individually and collectively so that we can move quickly to create the success our clients and company need to continue to grow.
At RevLocal, business is moving fast, and we are always seeking the right answers. Aggressive growth brings more clients, more teammates and new challenges. We are committed to finding the next best move and keeping our momentum focused on becoming a truly great company.
By developing our ability to respond rather than react, collaborating effectively with one another and maintaining a foundation of trust — we will continue to face challenges together and find the answers we seek.
Then, we’ll do the next right thing!