Growth environments are created and cultivated intentionally. Business leaders need a growing environment in their business just as farmers need healthy soil and enough rain and sunshine to grow their crops.

If your people cannot grow inside your business, ideas will not take root, productivity and engagement will falter, passions will wilt, and the organization becomes irrelevant.

Have you ever worked in a killjoy environment?

Those kinds of workplaces don’t just kill our joy; they can also kill ideas, our growth, our productivity, our creativity.

When we don’t create growth environments:

·       New ideas don’t take root

·       New experiences are not allowed

When we do create growth environments:

·      people have new experiences

·       individuals and teams learn new things

·       everyone continues to gain competencies in new areas, AND

·       they feel safe even when they fail.

Recently we launched a new radio show at Voltage Leadership.  It was an opportunity to both do something new, and to share what we are discovering about today’s best practices from the successes of our clients.  Here are some simple lessons that we teach and applied to our own new experience as we continue to grow as a company and as a leadership team:

1.      The leader goes first.

Our CEO, Jeff Smith, launched our show by having himself as the guest. In this way, he learned about the experience firsthand before asking the rest of his colleagues and other thought-leaders to join him.  This is both good hospitality and good business.  You can’t be a coach unless you have had the experience, and he gave himself the opportunity to go first and learn so that he could then lead.  

2.      Leaders keep learning.

A great leadership practice is to put yourself continually in the position where you are learning something new from someone else.  There is no better way to equip others to lead than by being constantly in the experience of learning.  We learn and grow as coaches every day, and it is our responsibility to be on the forefront of leadership innovation in order to equip our clients to be at their best.

3.      Start small.

Yes, we chose to launch a radio show, but we committed to a few shows, not a full year. We want the chance to evaluate our progress and measure the experience for impact. Then we can refine, retool and re-launch the experience based on that new knowledge. Usually when you start something new, it fails in total or in part.  Be ready for that and plan accordingly.  Start small so that you can fail fast and fail small.

4.      Create learning environments.

This is the cornerstone of our success and a key ingredient we find in our most successful clients.  When people are allowed to learn, the conditions are right for both the people and the business to grow.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself and your people to test your business’s growth capacity:

·       When was the last time you tried something new at work?

·       Tell me about what happened the last time you failed?

(Was there punishment or coaching?  Did you get pulled from the assignment or encouraged to try again?)

·       How would you rate your ability to test new experiences and ideas?

With these questions you can discover more about the capacity of your culture to punish or to coach, to strip responsibilities or to encourage engagement and accountability.

I have two hopes for you:

·       The next time you miss the target, someone encourages you to aim and try again, and

·       When someone falls short of your expectations, you offer them clear coaching and new tools and tips to go back to the drawing board and try again.