Four Levels of Organizational Growth (Part 2)
Giving careful consideration to the four levels of organization growth (Owner/Operator, Owner/Manager, Management Organization and Leadership Organization) can lead to some interesting points to ponder.
If becoming a Leadership Organization is a worthy aim, why is it that so few companies manage to achieve this? How long do the transitional steps between each level take? How long should it take? Why do so many companies reach the Management Organization level and seem to plateau there, despite clear evidence of a higher level which correlates with superior performance over time?
These are questions worthy of careful consideration. One thing is certain; Leadership Organizations have a strong, high performance culture where responsibilities and expectations are calibrated to the unique abilities and strengths of all team members. This is especially true of the leadership team and in particular, the CEO.
So, if “playing to your strengths” is a key factor of organizational success, it stands to reason that defining, understanding, and deploying your unique abilities gives companies a potential competitive advantage. Despite this, in my experience, few organizational leaders understand and can articulate their own unique abilities or those of their team members.
This can be especially challenging for the founder of the business. At the Owner/Operator level, they are good at just about everything (they better be). As the organization moves through each level of growth, the role of the owner/CEO changes from a task-focused orientation, to managing, directing and ultimately to leading the enterprise. If their natural abilities incline them to continue in the owner/operator mode, it may hinder the growth of their team members and slow the progress of company. In times of high stress, CEO’s in Management Organizations can revert to the operating style they used as Owner/Operators, causing frustration and alienating members of the management team who feel shunted aside and suddenly incompetent.
CEO’s in Leadership Organizations demonstrate a high level of confidence and trust in their team members and, in their senior leadership team. In challenging times, the strength of their culture enables them to address issues, obstacles, and opportunities in a productive way. This not only brings about a higher probability of success, it also serves to strengthen the organizational culture.
As we continue to move through the uncertainty that defines 2020, there are more questions than there are answers. Major disruptions seem to be increasing in both frequency and intensity. In the first two decades of the new millennium, we’ve experienced the so-called “dot-com boom and bust” followed by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The “great recession” of 2008/9 brought unprecedented economic upheaval. And 2020 will be remembered for a global pandemic, still more economic stress, political and social un-rest, and renewed calls for climate-related changes.
Through all of this, organizations with a strong foundation grounded in sound leadership and a strong culture stand the best chance to weather these disruptions and those that are ahead. Given that, now may be the best time to measure your organization’s culture and set a course for improvement and growth. To learn how, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related story: Four Levels of Organizational Growth
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.