Andy Bailey, CEO and head coach of business coaching firm Petra Coach, serves in an advisory role on the Gazelles Council, leaders of the Scale Up movement. We asked Andy for insight about how business leaders get stuck and strategies to get them unstuck. Here's what he shared.
Every leader has a "leadership style," typically part nature and part nurture, that is honed through lessons learned over a long career. Many leaders turn their "style" into their company's standard operating procedure. However, that doesn't always work, and even great leaders can get stuck.
As a business coach, I've often seen CEOs unwilling to change the way they work and communicate, stifling the success of a company that would otherwise flourish. More often, however, I've seen leaders dig deep, identify problems early and find solutions to take their companies to the next level.
I've encountered seven leadership "archetypes" and real-life examples to illustrate them. Each is stuck in one way or another. You may have met these types of leaders―you might even be one of them. But don't worry: It's possible to get "unstuck" and move forward as a more effective leader, with a stronger team and business.
1. The In-The-Weeds Leader
The Obstacle: Some CEOs spend too much time working "in" their business and not enough time working "on" it―they're too mired in the daily grind to think outside the box. Digital marketing agency SnapShot Interactive had this issue and was aiming too low with business goals as a result.
The Fix: Realizing change was necessary, the CEO identified team members to handle the details while he worked more strategically. This resulted in revenues higher than he ever thought possible: from $88,000 one year to $400,000 the next. CEOs need to think big. If you don't, your company will remain stagnant.
2. The Survivor
The Obstacle: He's been around for a long time and adapted to changes, but isn't advancing. Aptify began as a software organization in 1993. Its founder had seen success and grown his business effectively. However, there was no repeatable, scalable process to allow the management team to grow with the business.
The Fix: The team's work style was slowing growth and hurting culture. An overabundance of priorities left the organization unfocused and exhausted. Once the founder began using key performance indicators (KPIs), the team narrowed its priorities to get not everything, but the most important things, done well every day.
3. The Frustrated Boss
The Obstacle: This leader knows her company can be better but feels frustrated because she isn't able to scale at the rate she wants to, and she feels disconnected from her team. This happened to the co-founders of GreenEarth Landscape Services.
The Fix: The team realigned by establishing a long-term goal for the organization and specific steps to get there―something they had not attempted together before. They now estimate reaching $50 million in revenue within ten years. Transform frustration into focus and take action if you want to move forward.
4. The Doesn't-Take-Success-For-Granted CEO
The Obstacle: This leader appears to have it all under control. Her company is rapidly growing into an industry leader, but she knows failure could come just as quickly. I lived this experience as CEO of my first company, NationLink Wireless. I was successful but needed a system to accommodate future growth.
The Fix: I changed how we did things (and in many ways, who I was) in order to identify and reach my company's goals. Using the Rockefeller Habits, I was able to grow and sell my company and founded a new one with my habits in full swing. If you're successful, don't get stuck by resting on your laurels. Embrace new ideas to level-up.
5. The Rapid Growth CEO
The Obstacle: This leader recognizes that rapid growth is positive but knows it can present challenges to corporate planning and communication. He needs a system to address challenges and allow for exponential growth. The founder of Healthcare Bluebook was experiencing 100 to 300 percent growth and needed formal organization and a nimble team able to keep up. He knew his team members had different styles and needed to communicate better―but how?
The Fix: DiSC profiling identified team members' preferred communication and working styles, enabling the organization to scale and focus on accountability. Whichever system you choose, fully commit to enact real change.
6. The Controlling CEO
The Obstacle: This leader has trouble letting go of the proverbial wheel, and until she does, won't be able to foster the openness, trust and honesty required to lead effectively. The co-founders of Canadian law firm Litwiniuk and Company faced this challenge and took steps to remedy it.
The Fix: They focused daily on keeping lines of communication open between leadership and the team at large. After a year, they had established a new level of trust, team survey results were positive, and they've experienced success beyond expectations. As a leader, work with your team to identify and communicate why your company exists, why you come to work every day, why what you do is important and where the company is going. Outline what it takes to get there and instill a company-wide dedication to accountability.
7. The Old-Habits-Are-Hard-To-Break CEO
The Obstacle: This CEO is in a rut and resists change. Though his company is growing for now, company culture is suffering, and internal conflict is brewing. His team appears busy and productive, but a lack of alignment has employees paddling in different directions. This was the case at eDiscovery company DSi.
The Fix: To turn it around, the founders put people first, listened to team members and remained receptive to new ideas. Instead of falling apart, they've improved to the point of successfully selling the company. Prioritizing your people improves alignment, company culture and the future outlook.
Are you facing a challenge in your organization? Maybe your leadership style is the problem. Ask yourself what changes you might need to make and then ensure those changes happen. Just as the CEOs above did, hold yourself accountable and adjust as necessary. Make a habit of getting "unstuck." You and your company have everything to gain.
Andy Bailey is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in Nashville and author of No Try Only Do: Building a Business on Purpose, Alignment, and Accountability.