Creative LeadershipEngaging CultureStrategy & Marketing

Big Versus Small – A Difference in Speed

How does your organization’s speed compare?

Over the years our team has had the opportunity to work with every sized organization imaginable. They’ve ranged from global businesses, nonprofits, and ministries, with offices and teams around the world, all the way down to a couple of people working out of a home office.

But one thing I always notice is the speed at which they work. Generally, it’s what you’d expect: the bigger the organization, the slower the speed. That’s because of obvious reasons like the number of employees needed to make decisions, logistics take time when they’re spread around the country, and the sheer size of their projects.

But there’s another reason that leaders need to understand:

The larger the organization, the more comfortable people get with slowing down.

For instance, smaller, scrappy teams have to act quickly. They don’t have much of a financial margin, so they simply need to hustle. You see this in the excitement of startups, church plants, or when smaller teams are in the middle of an intense project. In many cases they’re wearing multiple hats, because speed matters. My friend Susan Kroll, who’s a Coordinating Producer for NBC News and works with news teams in locations around the world describes it as working with her “hair on fire.”

But as organizations grow, attitudes slow down, which means the entire culture starts to ratchet to a lower gear. In that process of expansion, most employees get further away from the front lines of sales, marketing, or fundraising, so they often forget what it really takes to make the organization work. Without that fire under them, they naturally lose perspective and often focus more on protecting their turf or maintaining their position than accomplishing great goals.

The lesson for leaders? As your business, nonprofit, church, or ministry organization grows, don’t allow the internal culture to lag behind. Your job is to inspire and motivate your team to keep the momentum moving as you add more people, expand your offerings, and conquer new territory.

Leaders who can keep that fire burning, are leaders who will be the most valuable – no matter what an organization’s size.

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