It’s natural for businesses to strive for growth. Rapid growth? Even better – but that can come with a specific set of challenges, such as workflows that no longer fit or they need to hire new people faster than you’re able to find them. As a leader, you aim to not only tackle those challenges but also improve your own skills so you can lead your team towards success.
However, not all team-management skills are made equal when it comes to fast business growth. Take note of the ones that matter the most if getting on the fast track to big results is your intention.
From emotional intelligence to effective delegation and the ability to spot opportunities, here are eight management skills that will help you and your team drive rapid growth (without losing your minds!).
1. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of, understand and manage emotions–both your own and the emotions of others. It’s a key relationship-building skill in the workplace, and it’s especially important if you want rapid growth.
“Periods of change are when leaders need to demonstrate the most emotional intelligence and be mindful of the morale of their team members,” says Debbie Winkelbauer, CEO of Surf Search, a recruiting firm that works with companies in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries fill positions and scale their businesses “Humans are naturally resistant to change, even when it will ultimately benefit them.”
EQ can help you stay mindful of your team’s anxiety levels during growth phases so you can address them and keep morale, engagement and productivity high. And it can also help you regulate your own emotions. “Don’t neglect or mistreat your current staff just because you’re focused on growth. It’s often stressful to lead a team through this kind of rapid expansion, but as a leader, you need to keep your emotions in check and not take them out on your employees,” adds Winkelbauer.
“If you aren’t mindful of your team’s morale, odds are you’ll end up losing staff to other companies, adding even more to your plate as you’re forced to recruit and train new employees to fill these vacancies along with hiring the additional staff you need to support your growth.”
2. An eye for opportunity and innovation
Being on the lookout for opportunity and innovation is a key management skill for rapid growth. It’s about noticing gaps and using them to your advantage, says Raven Waterman, a licensed therapist and executive leadership coach.
“Leaders who can innovate by taking existing solutions and creating new or improved ones position their teams to proactively address their target market’s needs,” she says.
According to her, it’s important to allocate intentional time to reflect and think critically, not just ensure your team is getting work done. “When leaders spot gaps, they can identify potential opportunities within their industry. However, they should avoid chasing every new idea and instead hone in on specific ones aligned with the team’s core values and mission.”
3. The ability to cultivate trust
Amanda Bedell, Chief Business Growth Strategist at BCC Business Consulting, says all leaders should be aware that their reports are looking for two things: respect, and an opportunity to learn and grow. If you cultivate trust with team members, they’ll give you their best work. And you’ll be able to focus on the bigger picture.
“If team members are hired into a rapid growth company, they likely have entrepreneurial skills and thrive on being a part of something bigger than themselves. A top skill I wish more leaders knew at this level is to trust the people they hire and foster an environment where trying new things and ‘failing fast’ is celebrated,” she says. “If trust isn’t there, a lot of time and resources are wasted on meetings, micromanaging, redoing work, checking up on tasks, etc.”
4. Tapping into team strengths
Bedell also says that the most efficient teams know each other’s strengths and how to leverage them to accomplish team objectives quicker. She uses CliftonStrengths, an hour-long assessment that helps you understand and make the most of your strengths in the workplace, with my clients.
So get to know each one of your team members and understand their unique strengths, then think of ways of combining the individual strengths in your team into collective wins, such as delegating the right project to the right group of people.
5. Effective delegation
Speaking of which, effective delegation is a key management skill for scaling. “No business is going to be able to scale if the leader is trying to do everything themselves. Growth means more work that needs to be accomplished, and managers need to have the mental energy to focus on guiding that growth and evaluating its progress,” according to Winkelbauer.
“Knowing which tasks to assign to which team members to ensure they’re accomplished correctly and on time allows you to keep your attention on the big picture, rather than wasting your time putting out day-to-day fires or trying to take care of every little thing yourself.”
6. Smart goal-setting
Smart goal-setting goes hand in hand with delegation, and it’s a critical skill for leaders seeking quick results. “You can’t just set ‘rapid growth’ as your goal—you need to break things down into smaller, more tangible steps that your team members can process and work toward,” adds Winkelbauer.
“The ability to see what steps will lead to the outcomes you’re seeking, and to establish reasonable timelines for their completion, is crucial for scaling operations.”
7. Strong communication skills
Add strong communication skills to your list of essential team-management skills that lead to rapid growth, because you’ll need them to navigate the choppy waters that accompany growth. Winkelbauer says that the better you’re able to communicate changes to your team, the better prepared they’ll be to face them, and the less anxiety it will cause:“This allows you to grow without causing damage to the culture and mental health of your employees.”
“When leading a team through rapid growth, leaders need to understand their team’s readiness and ability to navigate change,” says Waterman.
“Leaders may assume that because they see the growth as necessary and beneficial, their team will see it that way. They should be prepared to share their vision, anticipate and respond to concerns and see this as a regular part of the growth process.”
Also, Bedell stresses the importance of defining expectations and communicating them. “In a high-growth environment, it’s important for leaders to clearly define where their job ends and the team picks up,” she says.
“One thing to avoid is blurring these lines. In an early-stage high-growth company, there’s a tendency to act quickly and step on toes.” Clear roles and responsibilities and clear communication are key.
8. Listening to your team
Finally, listening skills are an underrated aspect of effective communication. And they are super important if you want to drive rapid growth because you can find out valuable information that can change the trajectory of your growth by being a good listener. “Innovation and crucial information come from the front lines,” says Bedell.
“Give people the time and space to give feedback on how their jobs are done. Give them the freedom to experiment with different ways of doing things, even if it takes more time at first.”
The next thing you know, you have an aha moment that leads to a game-changing innovation for your team. Or you finally solve a problem that was holding your growth back.