Bottom line, you cannot provide an ‘A’ level result with people comfortable in being ‘B’ and ‘C’ level performers.
For too many companies, the energy targeting increased profits and rapid scaling is misdirected into a focus on innovation, creativity, and invention. These, of course, are critical outputs in the pursuit of business expansion.
They are not the answer alone, however. Leadership is. More specifically, leadership that inspires the entrepreneurial spirit that has driven so many impactful ideas and guided them from inspiration to successful business.
Race car drivers will tell you they don’t focus on being fast; they focus on being smooth, and smooth begets fast. For leaders, focusing on culture begets long-term business success.
Reggie Aggarwal, who founded event tech company Cvent, focuses intently on maintaining the culture of his company with an emphasis on fostering intrapreneurship — a system that encourages employees to think and act like individual entrepreneurs and empowers them to take action, embrace risk, and make decisions as if they had founded the company themselves.
Behavior is driven by values rather than rules. Many of the company’s leaders today were part of its original founding team 20 years ago. In the two decades since he established this intrapreneurial approach to drive success, it has grown from a handful of employees working out of a basement to more than 4,300 employees across 22 offices around the world.
For Reggie, “the DNA of Cvent is its people” — the business doesn’t succeed if its people aren’t set up for success and great customer service, can’t happen unless employees are absolutely bought in on the company mission.
To put that belief into practice, he has developed six core principles that all “Cventers” follow to create and sustain an intrapreneurial culture that drives business performance — they call it the “Soul of Cvent.”
1. Be a business operator.
Ask yourself if your actions make good business sense for the company. The best way to think of this is, if it were your money, would you spend it?
2. Be direct.
Be frank and direct in your communication with your colleagues. Have an open and transparent culture where it’s ok to challenge your boss — or the CEO — at any time. Be professional, but be open, and let your voice be heard.
A flat organization values the diverse perspectives that each individual brings. Never forget, you have a lens or perspective that someone else may not have. If you see something in the organization that you disagree with, it is your duty to speak up and change it.
3. Have a sense of urgency.
Bureaucracy and bottlenecks cost precious time. Your competition is nipping at your heels. You must move quickly and decisively.
4. Create a culture of agility.
Fast growth companies go through a lot of change as an organization. At each stage of their evolution, agility is the key to adapting and growing — and ultimately, succeeding. It is essential that every employee individually remains agile and open to change.
5. Prioritize progress over precision.
Don’t be paralyzed by trying to get to 100%. It’s better to move fast and make progress than to wait for the perfect solution.
6. Be the top 1 percent.
An organization cannot be a top one-percent player unless everyone in the organization aspires to be top one-percent — individually and as a team. That means not taking shortcuts and doing the very best that you can do every day.
It’s been said that you never really build a business, you build people, and then those people build a business. That’s why intrapreneurship works. Developing and supporting all employees from interns to the new C-suite hire is not just a good use of your and your company’s time, money and energy — it’s a vital part of your long-term success.