Intentionally growing your company – Know Thy Self

Posted on by Excell Staff

Over the next few weeks, I will chat with you about five topics.  I believe that each topic is a key issue for growing your company from 15 to 50 and then to 150 people or more.  So, here is my take on that Holy Grail, on what companies and my clients need to focus:

Know Thy Self
Look at Your People
Business Model

Today, we are tackling #1, Know Thy Self.  Why is self-knowledge so critical to growing a sustainable company?  Ultimately, because culture is key (yes, I know I listed it as #3) and creating a culture from awareness and intention has got to be one of the most difficult undertakings imaginable. 
Why awareness and intention?… because most of us don’t sail through life creating those things perfectly by just being us.  We miss cues from others and from ourselves. 
My experience has been that unaware CEO’s get in their own way.  At some point, whether at 15, 50 or 150+ employees, they top out and their companies stall.  Unawareness come in lots of packages.  Do any of these resemble you?
1) Do you have to be the top dog and think that you have to the title?  Often these Business Owners would be happier by taking another title then CEO and doing that job;
2) There are those who are very bright, learn quickly and do things better than most of us.  This describes the vast majority of my clients.  These type often are unaware that they are stifling their companies because they are the smartest gal or guy in the room.  Everyone waits for the smartest guy in the room to solve the problem and none of their people ever get to make mistakes, learn and develop. 
Then there is group #3) There are those who just can’t delegate.  They have to control or their standards are really high and they feel no one meets those standards. 
Whatever the reason for the lack of awareness, many business owner’s don’t know themselves and usually don’t see the wake they are leaving.  If you resemble any of the above and are still reading this blog, congratulations! 
You are a member of an elite group, those who are willing to learn and grow.  Find someone or some group who will be unfailing in their support and challenge of you.  Place yourself in a position where you are more likely to observe and from what you observe, grow yourself. 
As an example, I asked one CEO who I work with to turn over management meetings to others and forbid himself from talking at those meetings.  Both he and his team learned that the team was valuable and had to step up when he was not there to save them.  The results for both sides was good. 
Another way to get some self-awareness is to use one of several scientifically calibrated surveys.  These are not tools like DISC or Myers Briggs.  While those two tools have some uses, the uses are limited. 
Scientifically calibrated surveys are tools that use a large pool of people (in this case executives who have been successful) and calibrate their responses to create a norm of where a CEO should fall on things like aggressiveness, diplomacy, initiative, certainty, etc.  Be sure to have your survey explained to you by someone trained in that survey and who is prepared to work with you on creating a professional development plan that will serve you.

So, Self-awareness is key to figuring out whether you are a good or bad fit for what you do and how you might improve from whatever level you are now.  Then you have to do something to close the gap around your weaknesses and develop your strengths. How have you learned to increase your self-awareness?  What would you recommend as a step?  Is learning something you do regularly and frequently? 

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