A friend of mine recently asked a small group of business leaders an interesting question: “In how many organizational areas do you need to truly be excellent? Where, based on complexity and bandwidth, do most organizations tap out?”
We’d all like to say that we never tap out, that we have endless bandwidth and energy, or at least that we know exactly where our limits are. However, the answer is most often a less satisfying, “It depends.” There are a number of variables that influence how much you, your team or your business can actually handle. It’s these variables that make this question truly fascinating. I’d argue that it’s actually less about the volume or about how much you can handle. It’s really about what a company needs to truly excel in more than one area.
I instantly thought of two things: organizational health and strong, effective leadership. These two things have to go hand-in-hand in order to have maximum overall success in an organization.
Firstly, you need strong, cohesive leadership in place in order to achieve excellence in any organizational area, let alone multiple. This starts with leaders chosen based on their expertise and experience. The organization’s success depends on the leadership team’s ability to lead and manage no matter what the challenge or tedium of the business. With a solid leadership team foundation the communication and messaging can stay consistent and focused throughout, enabling the enterprise to simultaneously focus on multiple areas of the business.
Assuming you have effective leadership in place, your bandwidth to excel in multiple areas becomes dependent on the organizational health of the company itself. The “health” of the organization can be measured in categories like: clarity of purpose, effectiveness of communication, trust, alignment, and engagement. With all of these in place, I believe that there truly is no limit to what a company can accomplish. Foundational, organizational health allows for repeatable expansion and scale. Without organizational health, trying to excel at even just one or two objectives will be a challenge.
At the end of the day a business at its core is made up of people. As a result, often the capabilities of the business depend on those same people. In a healthy organization with a strong leader, everyone’s respective strengths will be amplified, so that the company can take on any number of organizational ventures and excel. Without strong leadership AND organizational health, you will find that the ability for your company to take on new challenges successfully is almost impossible.