Any organization will find it hard-pressed to go beyond the level of its leader unless that leader has the company's success above his own. Many leaders have this deep-set fear that if the company outgrows them, they will lose their place in it. And that does happen if the leader is not prepared to grow as well.
Working with an insecure leader is a morale-killer. A team may flourish doing their jobs, but if the organization leader starts to feel threatened by their growth as they move outside his comfort zone, he may do whatever he can to throttle that growth to his level. Unfortunately, this doesn't make good use of the team's strengths.
A successful company is like a building. The weight of the ceiling rests on many pillars and load-bearing walls throughout the structure. As long as you continue to put pillars in their place, the building can grow exponentially. The strengths and weaknesses of the teams support each other so the overall company can grow.
An insecure leader runs their company like an umbrella. They decide how much growth they are comfortable with and what direction the company will go in. The company has all of that leader's strengths and all of that leader's weaknesses. It will never grow beyond the capability of that leader, no matter how gifted a department may be.
An insecure leader is afraid to try new things they are uncomfortable with. They may claim to want growth and outreach, but their actions will not support their claims. They will kill momentum in a department that starts to grow too much or try new things. It will fall into a comfortable level of mediocrity. That company may indeed grow, but at a much slower pace than it has to.
And unfortunately, it will not be a breeding ground for other strong leaders. When an insecure leader kills fresh ideas and perspectives to keep things at their comfort level, strong leaders move on to other places that will challenge them and help them thrive.
If you are a leader, consider three things to help your company and your people reach their maximum potential:
Be willing to try new things. You must be able to move outside your comfort zone. Don wanted his organization to grow and pointed his team toward another company in a nearby town experiencing tremendous growth. His team began to implement some of that company's ideas into their own to try and experience that same growth, but Don quelched the ideas because they were more than he wanted to try. His teams soon settled back into "the norm," and Don became frustrated because of their lack of energy.
Look at the level of your company and ask why it sits there. Are your teams truly able to reach their highest potential? Or are you always reining in the wild thinkers? Is there any department in your company that has grown beyond your level? If not, change that. Your company should outgrow you. Any successful leader wants every department to flourish.
Continue to grow yourself. You can never expect your company to reach its fullest potential if you are unwilling to keep growing professionally and personally. Challenge yourself often. Read books that will help you lead others. Go to conferences and workshops. Bring in good speakers to motivate and guide your company in new thinking. Force yourself to become something new.
Never settle for the comfort zone. Push yourself further than ever before. Stretch yourself professionally and personally and you'll be pleasantly surprised at the doors that open up for you!
Force the level higher in your organization!