Are you prepared to manage exponential growth in your company? It takes a special type of leader.
Businesses may dream of experiencing exponential growth, but few achieve it. The Facebooks, Ubers and Snapchats of the world are anomalies. While there are many reasons that exponential growth is uncommon, YPO member Rob Katz, founder of Spiritpower (former MD of Microsoft Sub-Sahara Africa), believes company leadership is key. Traditional leadership methods, while useful, are simply not enough to take an organization to the next level.
Katz recently spoke with YPO members during a global conference call about exponential growth and the practices, philosophy and mindset required to lead an organization through it.
Defining exponential growth
Exponential growth is characterized by a company’s disproportionately large impact or output —in the range of 10 times the impact or output of its peers — enabled by new organizational techniques that leverage accelerating technologies. It is not the same as explosive growth. Katz explains, “Exponential growth is two-dimensional. Explosive growth is multi-dimensional and takes exponential growth to new heights.”
Differentiating leadership types
Success measures provide one way to understand the distinction between traditional leaders and exponential growth leaders. Traditional leaders rely on short-term (often quarterly) measures such as revenue growth, shareholder and stakeholder value, and return on investment.
While these are important to businesses success, exponential growth leaders take a longer-term view and focus on different practices: people performance, impact and development; paranoid responsibility (constantly looking out for disruptors and planning how to avoid becoming their victim); and continual reinvention of company purpose, values and vision.
Characteristics of exponential growth leaders
Exponential growth leaders share many expected traits: a strong vision, a profound understanding of their market now and in 10 years, and a commitment to life-long learning. They are driven by purpose, for both themselves and the company.
In addition, Katz outlines some not-so-expected characteristics. “Their vision goes beyond the company and encompasses the community. It can be likened to uBuntu, an African philosophy that believes in a sharing bond that connects humankind. Exponential growth leaders are aware of the impact the business makes on the community and they want that impact to be positive and beneficial.”
Katz also describes a meta-consciousness that exponential growth leaders share, which is heart- and passion-driven. It goes beyond the conscious mind, which focuses on facts, is often driven by fear and experience (sub-conscious). These elements enable a deeper understanding that transcends a simple focus on personal gain.
Finally, exponential growth leaders demonstrate intelligence, emotional and spiritual quotients — IQ, EQ and SQ, respectively. IQ reflects the individual’s ability to think and reason. EQ reflects an ability to tap into feelings (one’s own and others’) and interact with empathy. SQ indicates spiritual intelligence — the ability to access one’s meaning and purpose — and Katz considers it “the key to being a conscious leader and developing personal mastery.” Conscious leadership embraces the Singularity University Leadership Model but also focuses deeply on personal mastery, which can be developed by consciously evaluating oneself against eight life dimensions: environmental, spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, social, career and financial dimensions.
Delving into mindsets
Katz defines four mindsets that every exponential growth leader must possess, based on the Singularity University Leadership Model:
- Futurist — Generates bright ideas; is optimistic, bold, imaginative and ambitious
- Impact-driver — Makes choices that positively impact people and communities; is empathetic, passionate, purposeful and adaptable
- Technologist — Accelerates possibilities with technology; is inquisitive, disciplined, experiential and focused
- Innovator — Brings ideas to life; is generative, curious, determined and resilient
Mindset is more than just our thoughts and is driven by meditation, visualization and initiation. Einstein tapped into this type of mindset.
Hiring the right team
A leader’s ability to effect change depends on the quality of his/her team. To ensure the staff shares the exponential growth mindset, hiring should be based on the candidate’s possession of the characteristics of exponential growth leaders.
Katz suggest a method of interviewing he has found particularly effective. He suggests having candidates interview with three or four individuals, one at a time. Each interviewer should be familiar with the characteristics of an exponential growth leader. The first interviewer questions the candidate on his/her experience and begins to identify strengths and weaknesses, based on the individual’s demonstration of the characteristics. Immediately after the interview is over, the first interviewer emails the candidate’s potential strengths/weaknesses to the second interviewer, who can then delve into them further, rather than asking the basic questions again. The process is repeated with all interviewers. Katz explains, “After several interviews, you will have a very good evaluation of how well the candidate will fit into a company focused on exponential growth.”