Growing Your Business or Organization: 5 Things to Avoid

Growing the business is arguably one of a leader’s biggest challenges.  But the real challenge is doing it cost effectively without losing key talent.  At the same time, it is critical to rally the organization’s stakeholders around the vision even it seems that the company will come undone by the pace of change.  Here are 5 things that you should beware of as your company grows rapidly:

  1. First of all, and counter to your intuition and perhaps the desperation you may be feeling as your company begins to grow rapidly, adding people will not solve your problems and miraculously handle your workload. If anything, the more people you add to the firm, the more complexity you bring in. Plus it can be expensive and add to the chaos.
  2. Don’t assume that because you have a brilliant strategy that you are home free. As the old cliché says, “culture eats strategy for lunch.” If you are not managing culture and don’t have the right team, your strategy is not worth the paper it is written on.
  3. Don’t get so busy working in the business that you don’t work on the business. Are you letting important issues slides simply because you don’t have time to discuss them with your team, let alone take the time to resolve them? This is a case of “pay me now, or pay me later.” You can handle issues before they become crises or spend your whole time battling those crises.
  4. Make sure that in your haste to get more sales, you don’t neglect your people or your processes. Talented people and solid processes will keep your business successful and help you grow.
  5. Last, but not least, make sure that you have the leadership skills and competencies to continue to lead your company into its bigger future. Just as you need to develop your business, you must continuously learn and grow your capabilities.

In the midst of managing the day-to-day business, consider these questions as you work on your business.

How well do you feel you as a leader:

  1. Have a common, compelling vision?
  2. Are able to effectively execute and implement the vision?
  3. Have a practical plan to grow the organization in a cost effective manner?
  4. Are able to identify critical issues before they become screaming emergencies?
  5. Are able to make decisions quickly and effectively?
  6. Are able to drive projects, while engaging and developing people and improving processes?
  7. Have a strategic plan that engages every single employee in the company?
  8. Have leaders who are able to adapt to the needs of the organization as it grows?
  9. Have the ability to surface and discuss difficult issues?
  10. Are completely satisfied with your current strategic plan?

These questions will provide insight on where you might want to continue to work on the business while you work in the business.

What if you as a leader could grow your organization or business cost effectively and with less, turnover and chaos.  What if you were able to engage and rally all your employees around your vision for the organization and execute on your strategy? Jean Ann Larson & associates help individuals, leadership teams and organizations successfully transform themselves while growing their businesses. Executive, team and employee development are our areas of specialization. We use cutting edge diagnostic tools and facilitation methods to deliver effective results and improved outcomes.  Contact us today at 800-823-4330 to learn how you can grow your organization while improving your business results.


The Power of Self-Awareness

One of the most powerful ways we have to help our organizations and clients navigate change and transition is ourselves. Using the concept of self-as-instrument allows us to provide deeper, lasting value to our practice. Self-as-instrument is defined as our ability to use ourselves potently and it relies on the level of awareness we have about the impact we make, and our ability to make choices to direct and modify that impact.

Awareness is key.  Developing our mind so it is aware of self, others, situations, and patterns is the beginning of being able to use ourselves as instruments of change.  Self-awareness and self-management become the first requirements. They are also critical to developing our emotional intelligence or EQ.

As consultants and practitioners, various assessments, including EQ, help us better understand ourselves and understand our impact on others and their impact upon us. In turn, we provide that perspective to our clients whether we are coaching them or providing team-based interventions. As consultants, coaches, leaders and facilitators, we need to appreciate and understand how we bring ourselves to our clients  and our teams and how we show up. We do this through our actions, behaviors, dialog, questions, and choices.

Questions we can ask ourselves include:

  1. Are we present with our clients and teams?
  2. How do we influence them?
  3. How do we connect with our clients and our colleagues?

According to Peter Block, the author of Flawless Consulting, it is essential that we are authentic with our clients. Are we true to ourselves and our values and do we have the courage to advocate for those values with the client? When we are not sure of ourselves and our role as consultant, whether we are an internal or external consultant, we actually get in the way of our client’s growth and development. As such we do ourselves and the client a disservice.

Some ways to improve our self-awareness include:

  1. Practice self-reflection
  2. Identify emotional triggers
  3. Journal about challenging situations and your impressions and reactions
  4. Share your insights with others
  5. Seek on-going feedback from trusted sources

We can help or hinder…it is all in how we show up and how we engage our clients in their moments of transition and change.

To learn more about increasing your ability to use yourself as an instrument of change, visit my website at or send me a note at

10 Ingredients for a Successful Team

Happy business team

As I work with teams of executives and professionals to accomplish a major goal or initiative, I find that there are key ingredients for success.  Below are some of the ones I’ve identified. Do you have others?

  1. Clear specific team goals (What is the team’s purpose?)
  2. A plan for improvement (What is the team working to make better?)
  3. Clearly defined roles (As a team member and in the larger organization)
  4. Clear communication
  5. Beneficial team behaviors (Behaviors that make the team more effective)
  6. Well-defined decision-making processes
  7. Balanced participation
  8. Established ground rules
  9. Awareness of the group process (Groups have “personalities” and there are ways to harness and leverage differences to strengthen the team)
  10. Use of an approach or methodology (How is the team going to work together to achieve the goals?  What’s a rough road map?)

What other ingredients would you suggest?

October Newsletter – Strategy, Strategy Safari and More


Check out my October Newsletter – Strategy as a core leadership competency and more….