How to Grow your Business Responsibly: Ludovic Gaudé, CEO of Intive, shares insight
If you won $1 million, it’d be tempting to splurge. It’s a natural impulse, after all. So when a business begins to take off, the situation is no different. Plenty of companies grow their teams rapidly at the first sign of success. But when the shine begins to fade, they’re forced to lay off a big chunk of their workforce.
Keep a Humble Mindset
Of course, there are many contributing factors to this. However for CEOs that want to grow their companies responsibility – and avoid any unfortunate declines – remaining humble should be a core commandment. And there’s research to back this up; studies show that companies led by modest CEOs perform better, and that top-and-mid-level managers felt more confident and engaged in carrying out their jobs.
So how can leaders keep a humble mindset to grow their companies confidently, yet responsibly? Here are a few tips:
Don’t fall victim to the luxuries of executive life
CEOs at top-performing companies can afford to live affluently – whether it means driving expensive cars, taking lunch at upscale restaurants, or sending their children to leading private schools. Yes, to each their own. However, a luxury lifestyle certainly isn’t a requirement for CEO success. In fact, many of the world’s smartest business people decide to lead humble lifestyles, instead.
Warren Buffett, whose net worth exceeds USD 84 billion, has lived in the same home for 60 years. He drives an inexpensive car, and while he could certainly afford a private chef, chooses to eat fast food breakfast sandwiches on his way to work. Mark Zuckerberg follows suit; he wears t-shirts and hoodies to work, drives an Acura, and invited just 100 guests to his backyard wedding. He also doesn’t have a private office at Facebook and works in the same open space as his employees.
As the CEO of Intive, I try not to live luxuriously either. I keep a modest house and car. At work, I don’t have a personal office and encourage ‘no name’ parking spaces. That way, if I come to the office and there’s no parking available, I head out and park on the street – just like everyone else. And when traveling for business, I stay at 3 or 4-star hotels instead of indulging in fancier accommodation. I don’t fly business class, either.
And while one could argue this is a personal choice, there is also a business motivation behind it. Being modest provides an example for employees, especially when it comes to working expenses. When they see the company leader not indulging in business travel luxuries, they’re happy to do the same. With more than a dozen offices worldwide, we want to continue giving our employees travel perks – doing so modestly helps us to continue, and makes a positive impact on the company bottom line overall.
Practice what you preach at home with your family
Living modestly and having a strong work-life balance go hand-in-hand. They both keep you grounded. To grow a company successfully, it’s imperative to spend time with your family and encourage employees to do the same.
When CEOs makes time for their loved ones, they act as models for everyone else to lead balanced lives, as well – something that’s proven to increase productivity and engagement. In fact, organizations that focus on work-life balance see a 21 percent increase in how hard employees work and a 33 percent increase in an employee’s intent to stay.
And many CEOs agree that dedicating time to family and emotional well-being provides everyone at the business with the positive outlook required to work effectively. “You can and must make time for both family and business,” said Virgin’s famous CEO Richard Branson in an interview with Entrepreneur. “It is important to build a strong family life: It helps to give you a better perspective and balance in business.”
With our company foundation planted in Europe, we’ve made an effort to uproot some of the best aspects of European work culture and bring it into our Latin American and North American offices. For example, I try to take a mid-afternoon break to be home before my children go to bed. We’ll sit down and have a family dinner, and I help them with their homework.
This family ritual energizes me to work hard during the day, and our company encourages all employees to set aside time for family or friends to lead active happy lives – and well, stay more engaged while at the office, too. Over hours, for example, have to be approved in advance and if an employee goes over, they’re allowed to take time off at a later date. We also offer flexible office hours, so an employee can support their family at home if need be.
Only hire when you’re sure you have a long-term position
Companies with agility-driven cultures don’t sit still for long, and often change their organizational structures in a blink. To avoid going through traumatic layoffs, don’t hire new employees unless the company will need them for the long-haul. Consider offering current employees incentives for taking on extra work in the short-term, or contracting workers for more experimental projects – this way; you can be upfront about possible end dates.
And while it might sound unorthodox, always try to be understaffed. Your employees will surprise themselves – and you – when introduced to a challenge, and can rise to new heights when processes are made more efficient. If you think a team is too fat, try moving someone elsewhere. Then try reducing even further, until the team becomes as lean and efficient as possible.
However, these employees don’t need to be let go for good. They could simply be moving to another department. Ensure that internal mobility is accepted by all employees and that managers aren’t protective of their best team members. People should be able to shape their destiny within an organization, and a CEO’s responsibility is to make sure they feel comfortable to hop.
In short, humility is important. Acting modestly as a CEO – both at home, and in the workplace – will reflect onto your employees and encourage everyone to work toward a strong and responsible growth.
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