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Think about the human body. It consists of 50 trillion cells. These cells contain enough iron to make a three-inch nail and enough lead to make 600 pencils. The eyes can determine up to 10,000 different colors. The tongue has 10,000 taste buds that allow us to differentiate up to 500 tastes. The brain contains 15 billion cells to allow us the ability to manipulate the information contained within it in creative and innovative ways.

The body is a living example of change and renewal. As cells die, new cells are born to replace the outdated cells within the body. So it is in business. The body is a mirror that helps us see that the ever-changing environment is altering before our eyes. Change is good, but even the most positive changes can be stressful. 

We are all asked to reinvent ourselves, the work environment, the work we do, and our interpersonal relationships every day. How can we be more accepting of change? It is human nature to want to hold on to the familiar and stable concepts. However, it is exactly that resistance to change that can prevent us from succeeding. 

Many entrepreneurs start their own companies in order to get away from the bureaucratic and authoritative environments that were traditional in the past. Entrepreneurs need enough structure to help their businesses succeed, but also have to remain flexible enough to adapt to changing ideas and market conditions. This is particularly important for strategy development within a growing company. 
It is imperative that the business not become layered in a decision making process. In order to stay nimble, flexibility and adaptability are required. The challenge is for the CEO to empower the staff and not carry all the decision-making authority.

Develop a Big Idea
Entrepreneurs are creative and innovative. They are interested in expressing their creativity by inventing new products and services. They have a passion for new ideas and bring those ideas to fruition. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Leonardo daVinci all had a passion for innovation and the sharing of those ideas. It is the creating, innovating, and sharing of those ideas that inspire many entrepreneurs to live life to the fullest in the pursuit of making their vision a reality. 

Live with Integrity, Lead by Example
When integrity, honesty and trust are coupled with vision, stability, and an empowering style, dynamic leadership occurs. It takes courage, flexibility, and commitment to be a CEO. Keeping your word builds respect and trust. It means doing things right, even when it’s difficult. It means leading by example rather than “do as I say.”
Other traits helpful in leading a successful organization include: passion, intelligence, clarity, high energy, ego checked at the door, ability to adapt to change, positive attitude, and strong communication skills.

Inspire Others to Achieve All That They Can Be
The old style of management was hierarchical and political. Today’s corporations are taking a different approach or they risk losing a talented workforce. Employees will go with a startup for less money if they feel that they can belong to vision with a management style that is empowering and allowing of employee input.

In order to be a good leader, a CEO must be a good follower as well. It helps to be accepting of other ideas even when they are in conflict with the CEO’s ideas. Personal ego needs to be subjugated to the needs of the business. If the leader takes risks for the organization’s people, then people will feel more inclusive of company goals and take pride in fulfilling the company’s objectives.

Create a Flexible and Responsive Organization
Even the most conservative environments now offer flextime and business casual styles of dress. Some even offer cafeteria benefit packages so that those within the organization can choose what makes the most sense for them. Others are becoming more open to the idea of telecommuting. Entrepreneurial companies see that the process of working through creativity and empowerment rather than control and manipulation is more effective in the long run. As the company grows, the challenge is to provide the appropriate direction and oversight without losing the entrepreneurial style.

Build a Great Management Team 
In an ever tightening vice of demands and rapidly changing technology, the backdrop of business is changing. Companies are looking for team builders who are good communicators. They want courageous people who don’t get stuck with an idea but are constantly reinventing new ways to deliver the best possible product with a team-based approach. When every voice is heard, respected, and considered, people respond with loyalty because they are glad to come to work and are excited about participating within the company. People become motivated. Motivation helps grow the company, thereby allowing the company to prosper. Give people the tools and trust and they will feel empowered to create and learn. 

Active Participation
Have you ever worked with someone who refuses to get in the boat and row in the same direction as everyone else? People resist change when they are not included and do not understand. People also avoid changing when trust is not established and they perceive that the management will not stand behind the vision and support the team. 
Much press has been given to the idea that employees need to feel empowered in order to make a contribution. If the employee is not allowed to contribute to the overall strategy of the organization, he or she may feel powerless and refrain from contribution. They may also feel that there is no incentive to go with the flow. 

Many people’s response to change is anxiety. They need to be given the tools and support to encourage change. They also need to be included in the vision to feel a sense of belonging in establishing their commitment to the vision.

The people within the company have to be adaptable and willing to change their ideas, if necessary, to contribute to the overall success and direction of the company. This means that everyone works as a team with the enthusiasm and support of leadership. The visionary must model integrity, show respect, have an open communication style, and have patience. 

If people are encouraged to be the best that they can be and are trusted in the process, they will feel like they are contributing to something larger than what they are. When people are included in the overall strategy, they feel some authorship in the company vision. By engaging people it gives them a sense of belonging.

Tie the Company Together With Reinforcing Management and
Compensations Systems

As people are leaving the more established hierarchical environments, there are new strategies being developed to help retain people. The visionary leader wants to share the benefits and rewards of good leadership with the people who support the vision. For that reason, many firms are specializing in ways to reward employees for helping the overall company direction succeed. Examples are sign on bonuses, equity arrangements, stock options, quarterly and yearly bonuses, vacation time which is more than the norm, a full benefits package, and retirement plans. 

Currently there is much debate about performance reviews and how to conduct them. Some believe that the individual goals must be tied to the overall performance of the company. The team concept is used to tie the performance of the team to reaching goals and objectives. But what happens when all but one team succeeds? Is the individual in a successful group penalized for those who did not succeed? Are there measures in place to support the unsuccessful team by groups that have achieved success? 

Perhaps it is the joint performance review that evaluates performance on an individual level as well as the team review that produces a more effective evaluation. Organizations may also use the self-evaluative process as part of the review to determine what the person feels about his or her work. It also provides a forum for the employee to identify opportunities and ways to grow within the workplace.

In Summary
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” – Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

Just as the cells in the body change, we all need a challenge to grow. Winston Churchill said, “Success is never final.” Success is something that is constantly reinvented. As goals and visions are reached, we are challenged to redefine a new story. This new story allows us to go out and achieve that dream as part of the evolution of life.

This Business article was written by Ann Estabrooks on 2/11/2005

Ann Estabrooks is the founder of Catapulta, LLC, a business development consultancy based in Raleigh, North Carolina. She can be reached via or by phone at 919-556-6119. Her website is