When a business grows rapidly, it can start to look like a wild, overgrown shrub. Some branches don’t seem to grow as well as others, or they sprout in multiple directions (aka runners). The plant wastes energy trying to care for these wayward limbs. Master gardeners remove branches with signs of injury, illness, or anything that can steal energy from the plant’s overall health. Likewise, business owners must look for “branches” diverting attention and energy from their vision. Sometimes, they need to prune the leadership team to encourage future growth.
Bonsai Leadership Teams
Think of your business like a bonsai tree. Yes, I know bonsai are not fast growers. But even someone with the brownest thumb can appreciate the painstaking precision of training and trimming bonsai trees.
Every single cell in the bonsai is intentionally focused on the gardener’s vision. Any tiny sprout that detracts from that vision is either retrained with wire or delicately trimmed away.
While I don’t recommend retraining people with wires or giving them unwanted haircuts, can you say your leadership team has the same intentional focus on your vision as you do?
Anyone who isn’t completely in line with your vision for the business diverts energy away from it. And while painful, making some necessary people moves may be in order.
When you come to this decision, don’t expect to lop off massive branches all at once; you risk killing the organization. Yes, eventually, you may need to prune more members of the leadership team, but for the greater good of the organization, focus on just one branch. One good people move a quarter will shape your bonsai leadership team in the right direction.
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
What a business needs as a startup seed is far different than what it needs as a growing, healthy company. In the early days, a small scrappy team of utility players is exactly what the organization needs.
As operations grow, however, the business starts to need experts who specialize in the skills necessary for a specific seat. Those utility players who used to cobble together the organization’s functions start to hold it back with their own limitations.
Sometimes a leader can stretch themselves and grow into the role the business needs. But you need to be honest with them and yourself. Do you have the time to wait for them to get where you need them? (Probably not.) Are you sacrificing future growth by trying to accommodate one person? (Almost definitely.)
Your Business Needs Change with Growth
When a business keeps hitting the ceiling because of the limitations of its people, something has to change so the business can thrive.
What’s more likely is that a leader doesn’t GWC™ (Get, Want, have the Capacity to do it) their role in meeting your next-level goals. If this is the case, it’s time for pruning. This doesn’t have to be as heartless as it may sound.
Many owners help those pruned leaders propagate in an environment better suited for their Personal Core Focus. At the very least, it sets them free to do their thing while allowing their business to keep growing with the right people.
Living in Harmony
Bonsai trees can take decades to grow into the gardener’s vision, and they require regular maintenance to stay on track. But if cared for properly, they can live hundreds of years. Doesn’t your business deserve the same care and attention?