I was recently speaking with a former colleague who is a leader of one of the most successful businesses I have been part of, a mini-corn (a near unicorn, $500 million – $1 billion valuation), and I realized that there is one overriding driver of large scale success, and it is determination. Anyone who reads my blog (and by definition that means you) realizes I am a huge advocate of analytics based decision making, blue ocean strategy, open management, customer driven products, etc. These are all great and will help you grow and optimize your business but the truly huge companies get there because of the sheer determination and take no prisoner attitude of their leaders.
I was fortunate enough to be part of a team like this and people often ask what was the secret to its success. They often assume it is great technology, design genius or some black box, even internally most of us did not see it (myself included), but the key driver of greatness was the sheer determination of the top leadership. The leadership’s entire focus was on growth, always grow, never stop, never slow down, never let anything or anyone get in the way.
Not a popularity contest
This attitude would often make people uncomfortable but they would never stop pushing. This often meant taking risks that other companies would not take or risks that others in the company did not want to take. It often meant hurting feelings, not just of competitors but those internally who lost resources or prestige to the steamroller.
What stands out is that this leadership team that ended up generating huge success never cared if they were liked internally or externally. All they cared about was getting the most resources and making the decisions that drove their business higher, and only drove their business higher.
It also meant never being satisfied, and this last principle is what helped me see the overall determination. Even when this leadership team had seen more success than anyone else I have ever met, they still have as much hunger as the first day I met them. It is still all about growth, not just winning but owning the space and then it will be about further distancing themselves from number two. It’s probably very much the same as why Bill Belichick does not stop when the Patriots are up by 10 in the fourth quarter, but will still continue passing and competing until they win by 31. Continue reading “It all comes down to the eye of the tiger”