Leading business growth beyond the numbers

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If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind. This has never been more true than it is in today’s fast-paced professional world, where success has become synonymous with growth. And no one is more aware of this pressure to create, innovate and drive continued growth than professionals in leadership positions.

For some leaders, this competitive climate of constant transformation has presented an opportunity to establish themselves as a growth leader. Simply put, this term describes those executives who have embraced this dynamic new environment to improve performance and encourage impressive sustainable growth. Thanks to their unique growth mindset, growth leaders stand out by increasing company revenues twice as fast as their peers.

But how exactly do these ambitious professionals achieve such extraordinary performance? In other words, what’s the secret sauce?

What does a growth leader look like?

It turns out that there are some key attributes behind business success beyond just brainpower and luck. Growth leaders have a specific set of soft skills and personality traits that have a huge impact on company performance. They tend to value a few factors that at first glance might seem counterproductive: failure, sharing control and taking quick action.

Failure means taking risks. No matter how well planned or how strongly supported by data, a new investment or directional change could cost a company dearly. But these types of risks are necessary to take advantage of new and lucrative opportunities. Growth leaders don’t shy away from risk. Over time, they’re likely to be rewarded for it.

And growth leaders don’t work in isolation. A common formula for accelerated growth is engaging in joint ventures and mergers, which always include ceding some portion of control. Effective growth leaders trust others to share responsibilities and take an active role in company operations, especially front-line managers who know the product or customer better than anyone. By explicitly sharing decision rights, leaders inspire confidence in their team and increase efficiency.

Finally, there are times when perfection cannot—and should not—be the goal. Growth leaders recognize that in order to stay ahead of the competition, they might have to sacrifice perfection in order to seize a business opportunity. It’s what companies do when they present a minimum viable product (MVP) to investors even though there are still some bugs in the system or flaws in the design.

It’s okay not to have all the answers. In fact, launching ideas before developing them to “perfection” allows companies to implement valuable improvements and create more personalized products or services. This means that they don’t waste time backtracking or overinvesting in features that consumers may not even want.

There’s more to effective leadership than just these three behaviors, of course. Growth leaders are good storytellers who can inspire those around them. They must dedicate close to 100% of their time and energy to their projects, set clear growth objectives and take a personal interest in their customers.

These characteristics are difficult to teach in a traditional classroom. IE strives to reinvent higher education, emphasizing these skills across its programs, from business to law to science and technology and more. Education is more than just learning the hard skills. We need leaders dedicated to growth and improvement, and that is IE’s goal: to inspire passion, collaboration and a ceaseless desire to achieve.

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