Not all growth is positive. There are organizations that grow really fast, but then implode because they can’t sustain it.  They have not built a strong infrastructure to sustain their growth. There are others who believe if you build it, they will come.  They hire staff and add space and then can’t sustain those investments that were based on hope not on growth needs.

Growth that is sustainable long term is positive and builds momentum. What are the keys to achieving sustainable growth? First leaders must focus on the people we most want to serve. Some clients are so demanding and take so much effort it diminishes our ability to serve others. We spend most of our time appeasing them and losing focus on our real priorities. Sometimes it is important to let go of projects or programs that are distracting us from our mission.

Sustainable growth requires building from the inside out. For example, we need to consistently equip our teams. Growth cannot be sustained without a solid team. Having an annual training calendar ensures that the team is stretched and remains engaged.

We also need the processes and procedures that help ensure quality service. Without strong processes you will continue to reinvent systems and spend energy on needless meetings. Creating systems that are flexible to adapt when needed will create a great foundation for growth.

Further we have to commit to being other-focused. This focus drives excellence and the desire to listen to each other and our constituents. Internal and external customer service does not just happen. There are organizations that talk about being customer driven but do not actually listen to the needs of their team or clients. When we listen and communicate with our constituents, we gain greater insight into how to add value.

Finally, sustainable growth is based on agility, innovation and being responsive. It may be tempting to want to perfect things and require those we serve to conform to us. Instead, we need to pivot to meet emerging needs and respond to real life events. COVID was a fitting example of how organizations reinvented their services and products to meet totally different needs.

Evaluate your growth to see if you are building for the future, or if you are leading your team for the moment. Lack of sustainable growth will cause both team members and clients to look for solutions and opportunities elsewhere.