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Growing leaders to grow companies

Thoughts from a recent leadership roundtable

We always find it hugely rewarding to bring leaders from our client network together, connect them with one another, and hold the space for a mutually useful conversation about their individual and shared experiences.

To that end, we recently facilitated a virtual roundtable amongst a select group of leaders from amongst our clients, focused on how to develop leadership for growing companies.


We know from our work with leaders of many small to medium sized companies that fast growth (generally with increased headcount, responsibilities, and complexity) places new challenges and demands on leaders – and presents them with new opportunities.

Often, those leaders can find:

  • they can no longer do it all themselves, and need to establish a stronger leadership team around them

  • they need to hand over responsibility to others who might struggle to accept it

  • that new layers of management have emerged, operating instinctively and sometimes well - but inconsistently

  • they need to lead differently, and inspire and enable those around them to play their part


We explored this topic with our clients, inviting leaders across a wide range of industries to share their experiences, questions and thinking. We also shared our own model, which explores the dynamic between existing, emerging and HR leaders to enable and support rapid and sustainable growth.

To hold onto as much of the knowledge and thinking as possible from the conversation, we asked our friend and talented illustrator Simon Heath to capture the resulting conversation visually (click to download a full resolution version).


Through the conversation a number of existing models and resources came up organically, four of which we’re signposting here:

  1. The Greiner curve - this seasoned HBR classic provides a model for how organisations change as they grow. It describes five phases of growth, each characterised by a dominant management style and a problem that must be addressed before growth can continue.

  2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - in this short book, set in a rapidly growing startup, Patrick Lencioni describes five dysfunctions that get in the way of team success. He also lays out how to identify and cure them.

  3. We referenced psychological safety (and we’ve held events on this topic ourselves in recent years). Amy Edmondson is widely considered the original thought leader of this valuable concept. You can read her book, watch her TED talks, read an HBR article, or find out more on her website.

  4. Finally, Kim Scott’s model of Radical Candour, which proposes that simultaneous care and challenge is a useful framework for the honest-but-often-tricky conversations that power growth. Again, there's a good book, and here's a six-minute introduction to the model from Kim.


We’ve heard from those who attended (and from some who were unable to) that they got a lot of value from the conversation, and so we are planning to hold more roundtables throughout the year. We have a number of topics in the mix already, but we would love to hear from you what you’d most like to discuss.

If you have an idea or a request, and if you’d like to make sure you receive an invitation for future events, please get in touch with any of us at h³.


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