One of my favorite blogs on leadership is written by a guy named Jamie Munson: jamiemunson.com. A few weeks back he posted a couple of blogs on stunting vs. cultivating growth. He put forward some really valuable insights. Here are 7 signs of each, with his commentary included:
7 Ways We Stunt Our Growth
1. Decisions are made out of fear.
- Fear of mistakes and failure make you sheltered and disengaged, unable to take necessary risks. Fear of shifting identity or a change in position or status threatens your comfort and security. Fear of offending or losing people cripples you, because you place your whole value in what others think of you.
2. Steroid techniques are used to manufacture growth.
- Truth and personal maturity are discarded for the sake of personal or organizational gain. Numerical growth is manufactured with tricks and gimmicks. People begin acting out of desperation rather than what’s best in the long run.
3. There are no genuine apologies made for mistakes.
- Error, fault, and oversight are not humbly acknowledged. Cover-ups and “blissful” ignorance are common, and even expected. Excuse-making and blame-shifting are the norm.
4. There is no pruning or cutting back.
- New ideas are piled on top of old ones, adding a confusing mess of layered vision. Initiatives are added, but none are taken away. Hard but much-needed decisions to cut out ineffective strategies are avoided.
5. Fresh leadership is never introduced.
- Organizational scar tissue forms over time and needs to be broken up, but isn’t. Leaders and teams become co-dependent and act as crutches for each other, or they become hostile to one another. Staff transitions are not dealt with properly and honorably.
6. Comfort or tradition rule the day.
- Inactivity is justified by cookie-cutter defenses, like: “We’ve always done it that way…” or “That would be a lot of work…” or “It’s good enough, why change it?” or “He/she started that division; it’s out of my control…”
7. The need to be in control stifles influence.
- No new learning takes place for fear of change. Decision-making and authority are micromanaged, not delegated. Vision and innovation are neglected or actively discouraged.
7 Ways We Cultivate Growth
1. Acknowledge problems AND deal with them.
- There is no perfect organization as dysfunction always rears its ugly head. A growing organization isn’t problem free, they just get good at finding the problems and dealing with them. When a problem is brought to light, the right people take ownership and no one is shifting blame or making excuses.
2. Encourage people to dream big and pursue growth.
- An encouraging culture is contagious and usually results in a winning team. Employees are urged to innovate and follow inspiration. There is frequent sharing of new ideas. Everyone is invited to dream big about the future in the context of a safe leadership team.
3. Do away with the 5:00 whistle.
- Everyone is invested in the vision and enjoy their role in its implementation. They are committed, engaged and accountable to getting the job done and not just punching a time clock. People willingly put in the extra time needed and maintain an enthusiasm for the tasks ahead.
4. Clearly define the mission.
- A clear mission is to an organization what oxygen is to a human, without it we’re dead. When your organization’s mission is clear, it allows you to tie every activity to it in a way that reinforces why you exist. This clarity of purpose allows the team to maximize their efforts and get better and better at the most important things
5. Choose influence over control.
- It’s so easy to be a control freak (I know from years of practice), but there is a better way. Engaging and caring deeply about the details is important but we must inspire and pass on a passion and trust to our teams. People that are invested in and not just micro-managed will rise to meet the growing challenges of the organization.
6. Take a few risks.
- Growth is not achieved by sitting idle. Be aggressive, seek wise counsel and don’t be afraid to take a little risk. You might fail, but that failure might just be the thing that leads to major growth. It might also work! You’ll never know if fear of failure prevents you from ever trying.
7. Leave room at the table for new people.
- Does the intern in the room see a potential path for growth with the organization? Young talent is looking for the chance to make a difference, to be a part of something successful. Developing a culture where new leaders and fresh perspectives are invited will motivate people (old and new), resulting in an ever growing base of lasting talent.
 Excerpts from two blogs by Jamie Munson posted at jamiemunson.com