The act of running seems simple on the surface. You put your shoes on, lace up, and head out! Right? The same can be said by looking at high-growth companies that seem to achieve great success practically overnight. That new web product just took off all on its own! Right?
In reality, these apparently “simple” successes involve a countless number of operational steps working in harmony to produce that “simple” result. Leaders can learn lessons from running that will help you meet your company’s growth ambitions.
Everything Looks Simple from the Outside
Let’s look at a typical easy, recovery run. From the outside, it all looks so simple. You’re running a casual pace, enjoying the sunshine, waving at neighbors, and avoiding traffic. On the inside, however, it looks something like this:
- Alert: Feeling short of breath.
Mental Response: Head up, trachea open.
- Alert: Running posture is poor.
Mental Response: Shoulders back.
- Alert: Leg cadence is too slow.
Mental Response: Hip flexors, fire. Lega, turn-over.
- Alert: Breathing is too shallow.
Mental Response: Core tighten and raise the upper body. Diaphragm, expand.
- Alert: Heel strike is causing pain.
Mental Response: Glutes, hamstrings, fire. Move stride to the back. Land on mid-foot.
- Alert: Heart rate is running too high.
Mental Response: Loosen tension in arms, legs. Regulate breathing.
- And many, many more…
3 Leadership Lessons Learned from a Runner
It’s a lot. And so are the daily operations of a Growth company. There are many leadership lessons here to extract.
- Being responsible for every “Mental Response” is a non-starter. Growth requires looking ahead and plotting the future path. Being directly connected to every operational action is all-consuming. Minimize your direct involvement with operations and maximize your available time for forward-looking efforts. Research, roadmaps, and relationships are critical components of growth.
- Grow leaders. They will provide the “Mental Responses” for the particular alerts. Structure your organization with your most competent, high potential members at the head of functional areas. Give them responsibility and ownership, not tasks. Your investment in training and mentoring will pay-off.
- Accountability. If the core is too weak to support breathing, you train the core and measure the progress. Work with your leaders to define a set of key metrics that indicate status and progress. Those metrics will indicate how well responsibilities are being met. This is essential in easing your involvement and offers an opportunity to coach.
“Winning” in a growth company means making every day count. Stalling or not making rapid progress gives your competition the chance to strike. Overall success is predicated on building a culture of ownership and accountability. Doing so will allow you the time and opportunity to build the path forward for your company.
Who knows? You may even earn a PR (Personal Record) in that next race!
About The Author
- Mick brings with him decisive judgement and expertise based on his two decades’ of technology leadership at Aprimo, Angieslist, Equian and Passageways as well as guiding several other regional start-ups through scale-up and beyond. At Passageways, he has built a cohesive and mission-driven team, implemented an accelerated product expansion, and strategically enhancing our Data Enabled Vision through a convergence of prevailing data practices, internationalization, compliance, and leading AI technologies.