Many think businesses are created simply with a great idea. The reality? Growth is more about leadership than ideas. This is one reason why people in the world of venture capital say, "Bet on the jockey, not the horse." A great founder can turn a mediocre company or product around. Vice versa? Doesn't happen.
When we talk about modern leadership, I go beyond the founder to look at all the people in the organization as the most essential aspects of the business. These people execute on the ideas that drive the business forward. Steve Jobs said, "To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. Execution is worth millions." To execute, companies must get three components right: strategy, team and leadership.
I work with the founders of fast-growth companies to help get the team and leadership side of their work aligned for growth. These leaders need the right strategies. I love being a leader's guide behind the scenes. My book, The Trap of Success, gives mindset shifts through practical tools.
The strategies of scaling to become a category leader vary significantly from creating a company with incremental growth. These books offer different strategies for growth:
1. Trillion Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle
Often, people only see companies' visionary leaders on stages and in the media as they launch life-changing products. The reality: For all the success you see, there are many people behind the scenes guiding those in leadership to hold it together.
In Silicon Valley, the man behind the leaders was Bill Campbell. A former college football coach, he had a knack for business leadership. Campbell coached Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and leaders at Google, among others. Co-author Schmidt, the former CEO and chairman of Google, set the foundation for the leader of online search. Johnathan Rosenberg, former VP of product management at Google, and Alan Eagle, former director of communications, partnered with Schmidt to share stories of Campbell's coaching.
One huge insight in Trillion Dollar Coach: No matter how successful you are, you'll grow faster by having a coach -- outside your daily work -- support you. Campbell believed that people don't need coaches, but companies need them to align the work. Based on the results achieved with my clients, I agree.
2. Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh
Speed is everything to some companies. Leading hypergrowth takes a different mindset and set of strategies than simply creating a viable company. Reid Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn and is now a partner in Greylock Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Chris Yeh has helped accelerate both garage-dwelling startups and Fortune 50s.
The authors offer a new approach to leading growth in Blitzscaling. You get to peek into the mind of a business builder who values speed over efficiency. The authors give you a playbook to follow that requires massive courage as it's contrary to how most companies are built.
3. Traction by Gino Wickman
The strategies defining your business are essential to your success. Gino Wickman's Traction is one of the most discussed books in business growth. It includes frameworks for success that often go overlooked, but getting them right will give you a competitive advantage.
This book contains practical tools for company leaders to align and grow together. When you combine the book's growth strategies with coaching, you get a tremendous boost in focus. I recommend this book to founders I coach on the internal aspects of modern leadership.
4. The Leader's Greatest Return by John C. Maxwell
The leadership journey starts with the development of the leader. As you progress, the aim of leaders is to develop other leaders. Since the 1970s, John Maxwell has been a leader of leaders and demonstrated this notion.
His latest book, The Leader's Greatest Return, is a guide to developing the leaders around you. In reading this book, it became clear that the more leaders an organization has and the higher their capacity to lead is, the more successful the organization will be.
5. Built Not Born by Tom Golisano with Mike Wicks
The strategy for leading a growing company is rarely doing what everyone else is doing. In my experience, you create growth by going against the grain and questioning conventional wisdom. Tom Golisano is a self-made billionaire, including founding and leading Paychex to be a category leader.
His book, Built Not Born, provides lessons from building a $28 billion company with $3,000 and a credit card. I love how this book provides actionable intelligence about company growth.
A leader's top responsibility is to create a vision of growth and success that aligns a team to execute. After years of working with leaders, I know that they must expand their own capacity to lead to engage others on the journey.