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Ask the Expert: Scaling Leadership

Consultants and coaches are often prone to using “consulting speak,” phrases that are second nature to them but don’t necessarily speak clearly to anyone else. “Scale” is one of those terms. We use it as it relates to leadership, teams, and organizations, both as a goal and an action. But what is it, and how is it done?

What is “scale”?

Bob Anderson of the Full Circle organization defines scaling as developing the capacity and capabilities to create outcomes that matter most. It simply means creating the opportunities, in every way, shape and form, to thrive as an organization. 

How do we scale?

We scale by focusing on strengthening high-leverage competencies. These are creative competencies that enable us to get what we want without expending unnecessary amounts of energy. We scale by balancing relating and achieving, and by caring, strategizing, and thinking systematically.

What prevents scale?

In a word, ego. We often get in our own way. Additionally, being too conservative, too distant, and too driven creates results at very high energetic costs – the opposite of what scaling strives to achieve. Leaders and teams that fail to scale often rely on brute force and effort to get things done. They underutilize and often fail to delegate and empower others.

Where should we start?

As a consultant and coach, I believe all scaling efforts begin with clarifying the organizational vision and strategy. This should be followed by examining the structure and competencies necessary to execute the strategy. Scaling requires us to “slow down to go faster,” ensuring alignment of direction and optimization of structure to implement. 

Begin at the beginning. Take a hard look at your culture and see if you are truly taking care of your employees and customers balancing the needs of both.