To successfully build and grow a start-up or small/medium business (SME) requires more than having a compelling product or service offering.
To maintain sustainable, profitable growth requires that your start-up or SME growth leader possesses some key characteristics.
1. An Effective Leader
Being a leader in your start-up or SME means embodying the spirit of your company and its growth ambitions.
As the growth leader for your company, you must:
- Make big decisions as to the company’s direction as well as identify how growth will be achieved
- Provide clarity in times of ambiguity and uncertainty
- Think ahead about possible different scenarios and if necessary, make difficult short-term decisions that support long-term success
- Create a high performing team
- Trusts the people around them and listen to what they have to say
2. Visible and Approachable
- A good growth leader knows everyone by name
- Makes time to walk throughout the company premises and be a visible presence
- Everyone in your company feels comfortable approaching the growth leader with ideas, concerns or even just to say hello
3. Insight and Customer Driven
In a study published by McKinsey, two leadership factors strongly oriented to growth are market insight and customer impact.
This means that company founders and growth leaders must:
- Have the ability to understand customers’ evolving needs
- Believe in their offerings and be able to explain the benefits and value they will provide to customers
4. Willingness to Nurture Talent and Grow their People
An effective growth leader:
- conveys a clear definition of success both organizationally and individually to everyone in the company
- Provides staff members with ‘space’ to develop their ideas and the company capabilities needed to support this success
- Sets challenges that benefit the entire company and gives staff the opportunity to develop themselves as well as make meaningful contributions on the growth journey
5. Effective Communication
A key to success in a growing business is acknowledging the need to sell, explain and communicate the company direction and momentum to people in the business.
The role of the growth manager is to be sensitive to the fact that change, particularly sustained change can be distressing for many people.
Therefore it is important the growth manager communicates company direction and changes to the business in an open, honest and authentic manner.
6. Strong Technical Understanding
B2B companies generally require a strong technical understanding of how things operate across the entire business. You need enough knowledge to be able to “get into the details” and with the people who work for you so you can provide input, feedback and encourage them to get better at what they do.
Effective growth leaders are those that can contribute to technical conversations and can keep their people focused on being customer-centric and aligned to the company strategy.