Are you a growth leader? The seven beliefs and behaviors that growth leaders share

Are you a growth leader? The seven beliefs and behaviors that growth leaders share

A new survey highlights what separates growth leaders from the pack.

What makes someone a growth leader? In conversations we’ve had with business leaders, the answer tends to boil down to a variation of “I know it when I see it.” But it turns out that there is a specific set of attributes that growth leaders share.

After carrying out a survey of 165 C-suite executives and senior vice presidents with growth responsibilities and conducting in-depth interviews with 20 executives, we found that growth leaders1 have seven specific beliefs and behaviors.

Furthermore, our research shows that executives who adopt more than 70 percent of these mind-sets manage to grow their top line twice as fast as their peers. We’ve boiled down these beliefs and behaviors to seven statements that reflect the convictions of today’s growth leaders.

1. I am all in.

Always put growth first. Growth leaders put growth at the top of every agenda, from board meetings to performance reviews. As the president of a global consumer goods company put it, “Growth is priority number one, two, and three.” This disciplined focus on growth is reflected in a profound belief that “growth is everywhere” and opportunities to outgrow peers can be found in every industry.

That mind-set is supported by our research. From other McKinsey analysis, our findings show that there is a growth-capability gap of 20 to 46 percentage points between top and bottom performers. This indicates that growth is possible in any industry when growth leaders back up their faith with committed action.

Growth leaders also demonstrate this kind of commitment by constantly scouring for funds to invest in growth. They have a clear vision of where every incremental dollar they find should be invested, and they actively manage that allocation by helping those affected (shareholders, owners) understand why.

Keep raising the bar. No matter how ambitious growth targets are, the legacy business will revert to business as usual unless constantly challenged to be more aspirational. Growth leaders do this by setting targets that seem almost impossible to reach, forcing teams to strive for greater impact. The CMO at one tech company told us that the CEO set growth targets at three times the market rate, adding, “We exceeded two-and-a-half times market growth. We were rewarded for pushing hard and not hurt if we failed.”

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