I’ve been thinking about Mt. Everest lately. No, I am no mountain climber - no thank
you, no interest here. But I am thinking about the leadership and traits that it took to make the climb and the routes chosen. . .
Mount Everest has two main climbing routes: the Southeast ridge from Nepal and the North ridge from Tibet; as well as many other less frequently climbed routes. Of the two main routes, the Southeast ridge is technically easier and more frequently used. It was the route used by Edmund Hillary in 1953 and the first recognized of 15 routes to the top by 1996. What does this have to do with you, your growing firm, or your leadership? Because leadership, like climbing a mountain, is full of risks, shifting conditions, perils, and opportunities. But as the leader of your growing firm three rules of leadership can be taken from Mt. Everest:
• Leadership can take different routes • Committing to your route is imperative • Be prepared to climb every day
Over the last year as I have made a career reset, I’ve spent time observing leaders who have taken different routes to success. Learning from the route each has taken can help you choose what is right for you.
The Culture Builder
A leader recognizes the value of dreaming big and packaging your firm in brand-building behaviors. They know creating a 'best place to work' culture would do three things:
1. Attract talent who learns from one another.
2. Create a community that will retain that talent in a competitive industry.
3. Empower a safe environment where agile processes, try and fail mentalities, and delegated decision-making result in kinetic chaotic processes that break and reform easily.
This leadership style will cultivate passionate employees seeped in entrepreneurial instincts. That trust in culture as the route to the top allows the leader to do the things they enjoy most: talking to clients and finding ways to close big deals.
Strong culture rather than rules-based management becomes the unifier. Natural loyalty to the firm as a community improves recruitment and retention, can assist in managing the overall cost of your workforce, and creates word of mouth recognition.
Often considered the ‘cool’ companies, firms who place culture as a route recognize that employees want to climb with you, want to be seen as unique and valuable, and want to feel part of a greater mission.
The Focused Force
Leadership can also be a quiet, purposeful sense of purpose over passion; a message that a carefully crafted mission will provide the clarity to drive success. Employees see less community in one another than shared purpose. Success means being very clear about the company’s North Star. It’s a culture built less on individuals who inspire and more on the singular goal of achieving whatever North Star is clearly defined.
That leadership style is simple:
1. Focus on a niche that no one is filling.
2. Build a talent team who shares that conviction.
3. Be the quiet force that compels total focus around the work, solutions, and outcomes.
Firms with a leader who leads through quiet force, a clearly defined mission, unwavering focus, and relentless execution can become the David knocking off larger Goliaths through sheer will and execution.
They favor the firm over the individual, build reputational value over individual superstars, and tend to reward employees in all for one, one for all ways.
Those leaders believe that the firm’s execution flywheel will drive growth and map their route upon singular focus to their defined niche.
The Solution Wonk
This leader is the hands-on type. If they owned a restaurant, they would be with the cooks. If they were working in television, they would be behind the camera directing the shot. They are the kid tearing the radio apart to see how it works. In short, they believe in the solutions over sales, believe in outcomes over reputation, and invest in knowledge over the brand building.
Wonks build a firm with talent matching their passions. Full of product people, solution architects, consultants, and developers; they question the need for marketing, sales, and go-to-market types, always coming back to ‘our customers keep buying what we build, why change?' As a leader, their route is clear:
1. Keep your talents' hands dirty building.
2. As a leader, know every aspect of the products you build and the work you do, and invest in knowledge.
3. Trust the work to drive the demand.
This route creates both culture and brand organically through client advocacy and deep product engagement. A focus on hiring deep work talent and investing in products at the expense of sales, marketing, and brand will lift the firm to the summit. Leaders who choose this route know they are intrinsically more valuable to acquire because they have less duplicative assets in sales and marketing.
Three leaders all choose different routes to make that climb to the top but recognize that the obsessive commitment will drive success.
For you, growing your firm and looking up at the mountain, one leadership decision sets you up for success.
What is my leadership route to make the climb to the top?
Randy Rodriguez is an Executive Advisor to bloomly and to a number of growing Salesforce consulting firms. He is known for his talent for making complex ideas digestible through story telling and for his ability to quickly recognize and predict trends in the market.
To learn more about Randy or to get in touch, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.