While rapid growth can feel exhilarating, it also comes with challenges. In this episode of Veteran Led, John Berry walks through the 10 C’s you can expect with rapid growth – critics, complexity, control, compliance, competence, communication, complacency, competition, and cooperation. He’ll explain how these 10 C’s can impact your team dynamics and provide strategies to overcome them.
Welcome fellow veterans. From the tip of the spear to in the rear with the gear, I went from active-duty Infantry to reserve-component logistician. I’m your host, CEO, entrepreneur, trial lawyer, and Lieutenant Colonel Retired, John Berry. The military lessons that I learned helped me grow an eight-figure business that has maintained consistent annual double-digit growth, landing on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America every year for the past seven years and has allowed me to continue to serve America’s heroes.
In this episode I talk about the downside to rapid growth. I call this the 10 C’s of rapid growth.
Number 1: Critics. the number of haters and trolls grows as the size of your organization grows. And I’m not just talking about the keyboard warriors who safely attack you from their parents’ basements by firing volleys of insults with their orange Cheeto-stained fingers. No, I’m talking about colleagues and members of your profession who have stagnated. They will talk trash behind your back, and they will talk trash publicly because of their own frustrations with their lack of growth. Fortunately, you will face no critics with those who are above you. They don’t have time. It’s only those below you who feel the need to criticize you.
Number 2: Complexity. Problems become much more complex as your organization grows. And the quicker your organization grows, the faster you must deal with the complexity. You have to take the time to consider all of the personalities, constraints, laws, regulations, logistics, financial costs, and opportunity costs in making decisions. Instead of having just one right answer to solve a problem, you’ll now have three or four different answers that all seem to be the right answers. And while you’ll have a staff of highly trained professionals who can help simplify the problem, their expertise often provides you insight into layers of complexity you’ve never even considered.
Number 3: Control, or rather, loss of control. The bigger the organization, the bigger your title, the less control you have. The challenge is, the risks get bigger, the consequences are larger, and you have to rely on your team members even more. At times, it seems as if your fate is no longer in your hands and this is challenging for many of us because the entire reason we started our organization or decided we wanted to run an organization is because we wanted to control our own destiny, or we wanted to control the destiny of the organization. But it doesn’t work that way. My dad once told me that he wanted to give employees the opportunity to control their destinies so long as they did not control his. This sounds great, but you will reach a moment where you look back at your magnificent leaders and realize that your fate is in the hands of your team.
Number 4: Compliance. The bigger you get, the more laws and regulations you have to comprehend and navigate.
Number 5: Competence and the loss of competence. As the organization grows, you will need skills that you don’t have, and you don’t even know that you need. Instead of feeling confident in your knowledge and ability, you will often feel incompetent.
Number 6: Change. While it will feel that change is happening rapidly outside your organization, your perception will be that change inside the organization takes ten times as long as it used to. As Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric famously stated, “If the rate of change outside exceeds the rate of change inside, the end is near.” So accept change before the change is thrust on you. If companies don’t innovate, they become obsolete.
Number 7: Communication. In a rapidly growing organization, your lines of communication will become inadequate. The biggest complaint you will hear from your team is lack of communication, and you will never be able to fix this deficiency, no matter how hard you try. Some days it will feel like your job is just to find new ways to relay and repeat the same message until it sinks in. Your team will stop hearing what you say, they will not see the vision you paint for them. And yet you will get up every morning to communicate that message to your team again and again and again.
Number 8: Complacency. The larger you get and the more stability you achieve in the organization, the more complacent your team will become. Your once hungry, daring team of true believers who would stop at nothing to make your vision a reality are no longer in the organization. Now that cashflow is stable, the team lacks your healthy sense of paranoia, and you’re the only one feeling it.
Number 9: Competition. Once you finally build something worth having, someone will want to take it from you. The bigger you get, the fiercer the competition.
And number 10: Cooperation. This is where I have struggled the most as a leader. You are no longer command directing the decisions in the organization. You are building consensus and buy in because you have hired people who are better at their job than you. Look, a lot of leaders are infatuated with rapid growth. I was one of those leaders. I thought that if I could rapidly scale the organization, I could prove my worth as a leader. But before you decide whether you want to rapidly grow your organization, you need to consider whether you want to deal with the critics, the complexity, the lack of control, compliance issues, loss of competence, rapid change, communication failures, complacency, competition, and cooperation through collaboration.
If you can handle all those, you’re ready for rapid growth, but that doesn’t mean you should do it. What you should do is what is in the best interest of your team and your organization and what will be necessary to fulfill your vision in the long term.
Thank you for joining us today on Veteran Led, where we pursue our mission of promoting veteran leadership in business, strengthening the veteran community, and getting veterans all of the benefits that they earned. If you know a leader who should be on the Veteran Led podcast, report to our online community by searching @veteranled on your favorite social channels and posting in the comments. We want to hear how your military challenges prepared you to lead your industry or community, and we will let the world know. And of course, hit subscribe and join me next time on Veteran Led.
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