How Do Scale Up Businesses Create a Future-Proof Culture

Author: Dave Pye

19th April 2021

How Do Scale Up Businesses Create a Future-Proof Culture

There are key actions your Scale Up business needs to focus on to create and promote the culture vital to get your business through the next phase as we grow again amidst unpredictability.   Scale Up businesses are defined by the Scale Up Institute as any business which has grown its headcount or profit by 20% or more in each of the last two years.   Even as we have managed our businesses through recent challenges, this definition has remained in place.

What has grown in importance during the past 12 months has been the vital role purpose and culture play in our businesses continuing to scale.   I have summarised the key points that I believe are significant among the clients that I have worked with in this most challenging of years.

  1. Ensure you as a leader have a purpose;  that your business has a purpose and that you communicate it clearly.   Share your purpose
  2. Continue to ask your people lots of questions and give practical feedback.  Welcome tricky questions by being open and transparent
  3. Look at how your people encourage one another and ensure encouragement is in your business DNA
  4. Create a culture of individual and collective responsibility – ‘how do I progress?’; ‘what can I do to make this business better?’; ‘how do I track my work in aid of our purpose?’.  Have processes in place that reinforce the behaviours needed for responsibility to shine
  5. Keep learning.  Be curious.   Look for people who want to learn and develop.  Both internal, external and individual training/learning matters more than ever.   Recognise the different learning styles of your people and deliver learning in that style
  6. Put back.   You are not on your own.  There are others who need your help therefore give back to your community, to your employees family;  do something for someone else to build a sense of community within your culture
  7. Continually assess your readiness for the future
  8. Be social even when #WFH or a digital native – use tech where appropriate to encourage community even as some work in an office and some are at home

What Does a Good Scale Up Leader For the Future Look Like?

A new way of working requires a different combination of skills for our leaders in the next few years.   This powerful concoction will result in exemplary leadership and help the business towards superior performance:

  1. Be able to adjust to rapid change – be adaptive
  2. Display considered decisiveness
  3. Be aware of different mindsets
  4. Show courage and be curious – keep talking;  do not be silent
  5. Create the balance between being action orientated and being reflective – embrace the fact that things will continually change
  6. Display a calm, compassionate, considered and confident demeanour  (The Dave Pye ‘4 Cs’!)
  7. Be inspiring and resilient
  8. Be committed and be present
  9. Generate other leaders – always
  10. Take care of yourself.  Your physical and mental health matters more than ever just now
  11. Tap into other’s expertise – you are not in this on your own – use Advisors/coaches/guides- have an advisor
  12. Recognise your emotional state and cultivate ‘emotional steadiness’
  13. Keep planning – one size definitely does not fit all.   As much as it hurts to write it, ‘prepare for the next downturn/shock’ just in case
  14. Have a risk register as part of your senior leadership meetings

I will conclude with a very short story:  Philip 11 of Macedon taught his famous son, Alexander the Great, that an army of deer led by a lion is more feared than an army of lions led by a deer.  Your leadership matters now more than ever as you continue to scale into a high value business once again.

Schedule a call with Bliss today, to work with me and take your Scale Up business to the next stage.