Preparing for the Long Game

May 27, 2016

Preparing for the Long Game

In a business a few years back, we came to the point where we were deciding whether to take acquisition offers or to prepare the company to execute on an Initial Public Offering, and list our shares on the NYSE. We discussed this at a board meeting, and to prepare – we built a presentation called the “Go Long Plan”. We purposefully titled it this way to avoid any notion of “go big”, as we believed that the real characteristic that could make a successful public company was to be an independent leader in our market for the long haul. As we looked at the way we had been running and managing the business, we decided that we had indeed invested in leading our teams to be in it for the long run.  We had about a year’s worth of work to do, but what was really required, was already inherent. We called this characteristic, team endurance.

 

Team endurance is when a company or business as a whole comes together to pursue goals, toughs it out through rough patches, and comes up with new and innovative ideas and strategies to navigate along the way. In a business, having team endurance is important because it is what will ultimately make you a stronger company. Business relationships are made up of many things; some examples are having trust, goal oriented thinking, quality (service, products, output), and contributing something. In a growing business, there are so many moving parts and it takes a lot of time, effort, and planning to make everything work well. In addition, in order to have team endurance, a company has to be able to help employees have intrinsic motivation in the workplace. Examples of how to promote intrinsic motivation are: empowering teams to learn new skills or techniques in all areas (like leadership), navigating different parts of the industry, and problem solving skills.  Sometimes there will be gaps but through these elements, a business will be able to adapt to change and take risks.

There are many elements that go into obtaining team endurance in a business.

Risk-taking.

Taking risks is a situation where hard work and effort could be lost, business could be exposed to something unpleasant, or the situation could result in benefits or profits to the company.  A culture of taking measured risk is crucial to growth in a company because when you take risks, you may put a lot on the line but it could also result in tremendous growth and opportunity for the business. Risk taking is essential in any aspect of life but in business, taking risks is what will make a company successful.  Some risks will not work, and it is in these experiences where the true seeds of team endurance are sown.

Guidance and passion.

Leaders have to be able to show their teams how passionate they are and get team members excited and involved in the vision.  Any vision worth believing in, has to be big.  We see many companies thinking they can build a nice little business in a big market.  Market leadership, and having a share of the market within the top five players is a vision worthy of team buy-in. Communicating this with palpable passion is key because it is what drives, motivates, and encourages effort. Leaders in the workspace can push their teams to develop and grow by expanding into new markets, acquiring companies, going public, or launching products. Investing in this growth muscle is investing in the muscle of the entire team.

Growth-mindset.

In a business, we have to be able to see that our mistakes and criticisms will make for a better product/service/good in the future. As a business, you can grow from hardships, obstacles, and thrive if you have a growth mindset. With a growth mindset, companies can focus on an integrated format where teams will be collaborating on both the daily operation, and new products with people with differing skill-sets. We integrated this all into a daily roundtable meeting, where all were invited to attend. This type of collaboration will strengthen the company’s communication as well as the products that come out of the collaboration.

Patience.

In growth industries, all worthwhile enterprises strive to be major share players in a given market. This takes time, this takes effort, and it most importantly means ignoring those who say it can’t be done (there will be many).  Winning teams should be impatient about progress, and patient about success.

Resilience.

To be resilient is to be durable but at the same time, able to be molded by customer feedback and behavior. In a growth business, resilience is important because flexibility and quick adaptation is critical to improve products and services. In addition, to have a company made up of resilient individuals will result in success because they are willing and open to learning new skills and navigating change. Resilient teammates are possibly the biggest asset a company can have.

Stamina.

Being able to sustain or maintain a prolonged effort in order to reach a goal or become closer to it. In business, holding on and not let anything or anyone shake you is part of having stability and upholding the identity of the company. In order to make it in any industry, sustaining effort while adapting to change is crucial to keeping your business relevant, competitive, and growing.

Attitude.

The viewpoint or outlook that you have on any given situation as a business could alter your path. It is important to have a positive outlook that focuses on your unique company purpose, and a belief that you can achieve a particular mission. Gaining external perspective on your company is also important because it will help to grow the business to be stronger and in a more positive way.  We all have blind spots, and we all look better in a mirror that through a window.

Perseverance.

Perseverant businesses do the tasks that, despite difficulty or delay in achieving success, may lead to positive outcomes. It also means being purposeful and knowing what you want and doing what it takes to get there.

 

When a company has all team members on board and passionate, new projects, ideas, and improvements will just be small steps closer to success. It is with risk taking, collaboration, passion, stamina, and a goal-oriented mindset that will help a team have team endurance.  This can’t start too early, and may lead to your company’s realization that it is equipped for the long game.