Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Planting Seeds For Your Organization’s Growth

Fostering-organizational-growth

After enduring the long and at-times extreme weather conditions of this past winter season, many of us are understandably relieved to find ourselves under the welcoming and hospitable conditions that are often associated with Springtime.

Of course, with the return of warm weather and sunny skies, there is a strong temptation to rip apart the brown and tired masses in our gardens in order to make room for new plants already in bloom. That we start over with a fresh batch of flowers instead of providing the current plants in our garden with the time they need to awaken and resume their growth cycle.

It’s a temptation that’s mirrored in many organizations today where the shift is moving from surviving the economic storm of the past few years to seeking opportunities for growth and expansion. As with our gardens, it can be tempting to simply press ahead with new initiatives with little thought on the impact it might have on the collective potential that currently lies dormant within our workforce.

But if we are to ensure a sustainable, long-term growth for our organization, we need to make intentional our efforts to tap into the discretionary effort found within our employees. That in looking ahead, we connect the motivational drives of those under our care with what we plan to fuel our organization’s growth. In this way, we can provide a strong foundation on which to build our organization’s health and long-term viability.

To help you achieve this in your organization, here are four measures you can implement in order to plant the seeds for your organization’s future growth and ability to thrive in the years to come.

1. Remove obstacles to allow people to do their jobs
The first thing we need to address in order to encourage growth in our organization is to recognize our natural tendency to exert greater control over how things are done. After all, given the fact that many organizations have been operating in survivalist mode for the past couple of years, it’s understandable that leaders will want to make sure that they’re not putting their current or future successes at risk by seemingly leaving things up to chance.

However, if we are to plant the seeds for our organization’s present and future growth, we need to shift our efforts to opening avenues for our employees to commit their discretionary effort – their talents, creativity, and insights – to our shared purpose. And that means that we need to honestly evaluate whether the measures we employ serve to help or hinder our employees in achieving the goals we set out for them to attain.

This also means that we have to move away from a mindset of simply reacting to what’s happening around us, to being ready for what our employees will need from us to succeed. That we’re not focused on preserving the way things are done around here, but are instead looking for areas where we can remove the barriers and obstacles that can impede our employees from becoming full contributors to our shared purpose.

2. Encourage people with divergent ideas/perspectives to express themselves
Another measure we need to employ to encourage organizational growth over the long term is to ensure that we’re not limiting ourselves to viewpoints that reinforce our own.

As leaders, we especially have to be mindful of how easily we can inadvertently communicate to those under our care what we want to hear, as opposed to what we need to hear. In fact, studies have shown that the more we perceive ourselves to be powerful, the less we pay attention to the perspective of others.

And it’s important to note here that it doesn’t matter whether we are as powerful as we think we are. Just the fact that we see ourselves that way is enough to diminish our ability to take into consideration the different ideas, outlooks or perspectives of those around us.

Indeed, we only have to look back at our own experiences working under various leaders to remember those bosses who we avoided sharing various ideas or insights with, because we had learned of the negative consequences that came from challenging their understandings of the realities within their organization.

If we want to tap into the full potential of our employees to drive our growth and future successes, we need to create an environment where everyone has the chance to be heard; that we don’t rely solely on the most vocal or those who’ve learned to say only what we want to hear to guide our decisions and choices going forward.

We have to remember that leadership is not about what you know, but about what you want to discover. From this vantage point, it becomes all the more clear why we need to broaden our perspective and encourage those we lead to help us to challenge and question our own assumptions. In this way, we can demonstrate our drive to not simply be right, but to do right by those we serve through our leadership.

3. Look for opportunities to learn, and not just to succeed
When it comes to planning new growth initiatives, it’s understandable that our focus is on promoting efforts that will bring about some measure of early success to our organization. While there’s no question of the value and importance of celebrating some quick wins to fuel the inner motivations of your employees, we also have to make sure we’re open to accepting failure when things don’t go as planned.

Indeed, one of the reasons why so many of us struggle with failure is because we don’t facilitate opportunities to reflect and review on what we can learn from these failed outcomes. Of how these situations can help us to discover hidden gaps in our awareness or understanding that inevitably caused us to miss our target.

That’s why we need to communicate to our employees that failure is not a weakness, but an opportunity to learn – to gain new insights and new understandings that will help us to become stronger going forward.

When it comes to promoting innovation in our organizations, we are continually reminded of the importance of communicating acceptance of failure as part of the process to developing a new product or service offering.

Likewise, when setting forth to promote growth initiatives in our organization, we need to demonstrate our commitment to failure over the long run, so that our employees recognize our desire to not simply succeed, but to help them grow and evolve into stronger, more valued contributors to our shared purpose.

4. Delegate growth, not just tasks
When it comes to delegation, it’s a common practice for leaders to hand out those tasks which they either don’t enjoy or lack the proper skill set to do themselves.

But when it comes to planting the seeds for our organization’s growth, it’s vital that we look beyond the act of delegation in terms of mere tasks and instead, evaluate what opportunities we can provide to our employees that will help to stretch and grow their core competencies.

After all, as our organization grows, the very nature of how it will operate and function will change and evolve and consequently, the kind of participation and skills we require from our employees will be different from what it is now.

That’s why in planning initiatives for our organization’s growth, we need to anticipate how we can provide our employees with opportunities to be challenged; to stretch themselves in terms of both their skills and their assumptions of how they can contribute meaningfully to our organization.

In order for the growth and future successes we plan today to be sustainable in the years to come, we need to ensure that our employees are growing alongside our organization. And that means that we not only have to give our employees permission to fail, but that we’re creating an environment where our employees are challenging their assumptions of what’s possible and what they’re capable of contributing to our collective efforts.

The reality facing leaders today is that while technology and processes are important, they are no longer the key differentiators they once were in terms of encouraging the kind of growth that’s necessary to revitalize your organization and spur its future successes.

Looking forward, we need to ensure that through our actions and words we are no longer acting like an an anchor holding our organization in a stationary position. Instead, we need to serve as an organizational rudder – helping to guide our employees forward so that we can collectively succeed and thrive.

Through our leadership, we need to create conditions where we not only fulfil our shared purpose, but we remind ourselves and each other of why we do what we do. In so doing, we can create a sense of value and purpose not just for those within our organization, but also for those we serve through our collective efforts.

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2 Comments
  1. On May 20th, 2014 at 12:05 AM @RobertSher said:

    This is an excellent and thoughtful piece. After a few years (or more) of fighting for survival, and perhaps managing more directly, we must remember that prosperity and growth require a different approach, as Tanveer suggests. If we don't provide it, our best employees will leave in search of it elsewhere.

    However it is hard to "turn over a new leaf" for an entire organization. It requires deep discussion, clear support by the CEO and the leadership team, and then the leadership team must walk the talk. As the CEO sees that the leadership team indeed can change, then some dramatic celebrations and public statement of commitment can freshen the environment enough to make the change stick. Then ongoing attention over time can maintain a change. Clearly, this is a project to be worked and monitored.

  2. On May 20th, 2014 at 11:04 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Robert; I'm glad you enjoyed this piece.

    You bring up some excellent points on how leaders can help create and sustain the shift change. I absolutely agree with you that it's important that leaders not view this as a set-it-and-forget-it process, but one that requires periodic review and hands-on involvement.

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