Late last week I was with an executive who is running a vibrant and growing family business. As we were in conversation, I paused to reflect to and with him regarding the change and the difference I see in him and how he talks about the business compared with when we first began our business dialogues a little over two years ago. What made me most excited was the confidence and assuredness that I now see in him, and that he is on top of issues and continually scaling up all aspects of the business. In June 2014, he had been tentative, even discouraged at times and wasn’t sure of the future – in fact, he was even considering a career change and relocating himself and his wife and children.
As I probed with my “inquiry” to get him to articulate and to be able to review and reinforce the reasons for the change, there were several things that emerged, but one statement in particular stood out to me. He said, “We have broken the barrier in ‘this is how we have always done it’.” I asked him to text me that quote right away as a reminder for me to blog about it this week.
The conversation continued and he explained more to me regarding how embedded the “old guard” was in the organization regarding how they did business. I saw and heard the energy and zeal in him when he told me about some of the new and emerging leaders in the company and how they have recruited and how much value the company is getting from the creativity that others bring, when they are supported to do so.
According to this executive, the primary reason for the new growth, new identity and forward thinking and positive outlook in his business as compared to two years ago, relates to the people in the organization. Of course I reminded him that he is to be credited for recruiting and delegating well to these people, but that is another piece.
While there is value in having long standing employees and the corporate memory and stability that brings to a company, companies need both old and new employees to be willing to be creative, take risks and not automatically fall back on old ways when they need to feel comfortable.
As executives and entrepreneurs, we need to continually evaluate and reevaluate our people, and lead well by way of eliciting and mining for creativity and fresh thinking. There is a balance to be found between sameness and newness.
Cameron’s Call to Action
- Ask yourself, “In my company, are we being held back by the “old guard” and do we need to find a way to “break the barrier in this is how we’ve always done it?”
- In collaboration with your senior leadership team, take time to assess how you are doing in terms of creating a culture for new and creative thinking and practice.
- Strategize and determine some action steps related to reinforcing and continuing to elicit creativity where it is already emerging, as well as action steps related to connecting with the “old guard” and finding out what it will take for you and this cohort together to advance their practice into a more creative future where there is openness to change.