Lack of Strategy Will Kill You
Stage 6 is called the Strategic Stage because the risk of not seeing the larger strategic picture could cause the ‘too little, too late’ syndrome. In Stages 1 - 4, the leader acts nearly exclusively with an immediate focus, dealing with only the current issues and opportunities. The leader doesn’t really have to tackle serious budgets and long-term planning until Stage 5. Now that the company has reached Stage 6, the planning horizon must go beyond a year in order to compete in the marketplace. At 96-160 employees, the company is likely on the radar of much larger competitors, and strategic planning and product development must extend further into the future than the 6 – 12 month plans that were effective up to this point.
The key objectives in Stage 6 are to:
Ensure Business Development has an integrated system and comprehensive strategy to sustain company growth.
Establish a 3-year budget and a financial system that can handle the needs of a larger company.
Complete Infrastructure Building Blocks
Focus first on People, then Profit, and finally Process.
Engaged Employees = Successful Company
This is true at any Stage, but especially visible in Stage 6. A Stage 6 company struggles with staff buy-in, hiring quality staff, a lack of understanding between staff satisfaction and company profit, difficulty establishing new staff orientation processes, and a weak business model.
To mitigate these challenges, the leader needs to focus on people through establishing a comprehensive orientation program to immerse new hires into the culture of the organization. Conducting annual organization health surveys are also key to increasing staff buy-in and engagement.
By strategizing the big picture of the company over the next 2 – 5 years, a business owner can begin to bring back the visionary atmosphere that was so engrained in earlier Stages. This phase does not mean simply dreaming about the future. Rather, the leader with active involvement from the leadership team must develop and communicate a strategy for each department.
Some of the Non-Negotiable Rules of Stage 6 are:
Establish 2-year fully integrated budget and forecast for each department and Revenue Group.
Task Operations teams to lower costs through the identification, acquisition, and implementation of advanced systems and processes.
Leaders and managers must demonstrate Core Values daily.
Establish an advanced orientation program that immerses new hires into culture and processes.
The CEO must have the personal ability to develop a strategic orientation. The awareness of the CEO in Stage 6 is to set in motion the longer view and to drive the organizational culture as a visible leader.
The workplace community – a dynamic ecosystem – changes almost overnight as a result of the additional complexity. The distribution of authority and accountability becomes a major Stage 6 issue. So, in order to begin to tie these things together within the workplace, the CEO must establish:
A very clear vision for the enterprise
A strong set of core values
A clearly defined corporate culture
A powerful strategic plan that spans the next two – five years
The CEO must be able to propagate and communicate these four key items to the employees as well as infuse them into the leadership and management teams.
In Stage 6, the business needs the leader to set the bar for success, foster connectedness in the team, and instill pride in the organization. This is accomplished through a blend of Pacesetting, Affiliative, and Visionary leadership styles.
Stage 5 introduced the affiliative style – a style that connects people to each other – helps facilitate the healing of rifts between teams and providing motivation during stressful times. The leader must rely on this connection among the team to facilitate change. This emphasis on the team is important, because without a strong competency in empathy, this can be a tough time for a leader as 50% of their time is spent in the Manager “face of a leader”.
Remember – a company that lacks strategic vision is stagnant. To keep the company growing and successful, it is up to the leader and the leadership team to strategize and clearly communicate that strategy to the organization.