When it comes to your leadership, are you growing or scaling or both?
Growth is perhaps the most common goal among businesses. Whether it’s a new venture fresh out of the starting gate in a local market or a multi-billion-dollar corporation that has run several laps all around the world, consistently failing to grow can be fatal.
Many organizations also set their sights on scaling, which is efficient growth that puts less strain on expenses. If your business can scale its operations, its products, or its services by making minimal investments that lead to large leaps in revenue, then it can grow at a more efficient and perhaps accelerated pace.
But what about your leadership?
There’s plenty of talk about the importance of growing as a leader, but perhaps we also should focus more on scaling our influence.
We grow as leaders by investing in ourselves – by reading the right books and articles, listening to the right speakers, taking the right classes, trusting the right mentors, and making the most of our experiences.
When we invest what we learn in positive ways, our leadership has influence. And we can grow that influence by reaching more people. But we can’t clone ourselves or add hours to the day. So how do we scale our influence?
Much like a business, I think we do it by strategically finding and implementing efficiencies that allow us to expand our impact without working more hours or risking an experimental cloning procedure. There are at least two areas where we can focus: Processes and people.
We all have different personalities, and some people don’t do well with processes while others will find any excuse to create a spreadsheet. But refining our processes, regardless of our personality differences, can make a huge difference in our lives and the impact we have.
This can take all sorts of forms, but typically it’s about having plans and routines that help us make the most of our time. It can include figuring out the most efficient way to start our day, how we manage emails, or the structure of our organization.
It also includes strategic processes. For example, one way I try to scale my influence is with blogs, articles, and my book. This allows me to reach people I’ve never met and will likely never meet. The strategy (writing to larger audiences) helps scale my influence, but so too does an efficient process. If I can spend 30 minutes working on a blog instead of two hours, then I’ve saved 90 minutes that I can devote to other things.
Then there are processes where the payoff seems counter-intuitive. For example, Martin Luther once said, “I am so busy now that if I did not spend three hours each day in prayer, I could not get through the day.” He knew one key to scaling his influence was spending time in prayer. The same might be said when it comes to exercise, a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, or spending time away from work.
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I was on a podcast not long ago with Sam Wilson of the Bricken Investment Group when the discussion turned to scaling a business. The main point I tried to make was about the importance of having the right people in the right roles. To scale in business, you need talented people who are well-fitted to the strategy the organization is taking. Sometimes you need to slow the business to regroup and grow the business later, and that takes people with a different skillset than when you are aiming for quick, accelerated growth.
To scale our influence, we need to surround ourselves with the right people (those who make us better) and invest in the right people (those who can and are willing to benefit from what we have to offer).
I have several mentors and advisors who help me grow personally and a small team of experts who help me scale my influence with my writing and speaking. I also try to be strategic when it comes to my audiences. If I mentor someone personally, for instance, I want it to be someone who is eager to learn whatever I have to offer but also willing to then share it with others. If I mentor three people each year who each subsequently mentor three people each year and the pattern continues, then the influence grows astronomically.
The importance of growing as a leader will never wane, but how well we scale our influence will determine the difference we make in the world.