How high-growth companies’ leaders drive the growth agenda

High-growth companies understand the power of strong leadership. They are led by management teams which have a clear vision for success and a strategy for achieving that vision. These inspiring leaders are able to communicate their ambitions to their colleagues, working collaboratively with all staff to execute on their plans.

Trailblazer High Growth

Vision and purpose

Overall, some 79% of the Trailblazers believe they have effective leadership compared to 64% of companies currently growing more slowly. In practice, that leadership encompasses a range of key skills necessary to drive the business forward.

For example, 78% of the Trailblazers believe their leaders set out a strong strategic vision, compared to 60% of lower-growth companies. Crucially, these companies are also good at turning that vision into reality: 70% of the Trailblazers believe they are successfully executing strategy, against only 52% of the lower-growth companies.

Indeed, the Trailblazer leaders are focused on day-to-day operations as well as the longer term. Some 78% of high-growth companies believe they are operationally efficient, compared to 57% of slower-growth businesses. And 78% of the Trailblazers cite their ability to communicate well with external stakeholders, compared to 63% of slower-growing companies.

The strong leadership abilities of the Trailblazers are also evident in their willingness to take risks. This isn’t to suggest these businesses are reckless: they make calculated decisions on the basis of research, planning, testing and insight. But they avoid conservatism, conscious of the imperative to keep their businesses moving forward. Some 73% of the Trailblazers say they are good at taking risks, markedly ahead of the lower-growth companies, where only 47% say the same.

Creating a positive feedback loop

For the Trailblazers, leadership is played out through a cycle of continuous improvement. High-growth companies set out a strategic vision for success, focus on execution, monitor the results and then adjust their strategy as they search for optimal performance. They continually fine-tune strategy and execution on the basis of what has been achieved so far.

This cycle is not sustainable unless leaders have the drive to keep it moving. In this study, 71% of high-growth companies believe their leaders are able to articulate the business’s vision clearly, against 55% of their slower-growth peers. And 79% of the Trailblazers say they systematically monitor key performance indicators, against 67% of slower-growing companies.

This feedback loop provides the Trailblazer leaders with a constant flow of intelligence about how every aspect of their business is performing. The nature of the key performance indicators will vary according to the nature of the business, but this insight into operational effectiveness provides the raw data that leaders require in order to adjust the business’s strategic vision and execution of its planning.

There will always be room for improvement – indeed, strong leaders recognise the danger of complacency and almost never stand still. But while many of the Trailblazers accept they still need to strengthen their executive – 67% believe they currently have the right depth of management – it is their leadership that underpins the high-growth rates they are achieving.

Meet the Trailblazers: Our research into Britain’s high-growth companies

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