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The universe operates at two scales: microscopic and macroscopic. If you are presented two pictures without context, you could be challenged to distinguish between something infinitesimally small or monumentally large. Try this for yourself. This is not a question of vision—you can see the field clearly—or even perspective (you are towering over the field, an omniscient presence), but of context. Without context, your tools for navigating anything—a butterfly’s wing, a growing business, the Gobi Desert—are useless.

Gathering Context

For the entrepreneur who has struggled in isolation to nurture and grow a concept into a thriving business, to the small business owner who is precariously teetering on the brink of successful expansion, business leaders derive their context—their thorough understanding of the playing field—from the employees around them.

You may think you, keeper of the original flame and protector of the core concept, have the only true vision. Yet as your business expands, you have to accept regional and global differences of interpretation of that vision, a point emphasized in Cornell University's HR Review

One of the leadership competencies most challenging to develop is a willingness to gather context (situational awareness, insight into failures, SWOTs, inputs, whatever you wish to call them) from your employees. If you do not nurture and value the relationships of your employees (seasoned and new), you will lose context and sacrifice leadership power.

Everything Expands

Our universe expands. Businesses expand. The emerging butterfly expands its new wings to take first flight. If your business does not expand to fulfill the compelling future you envisioned, neither you nor your employees are succeeding. Among the leadership competencies you must exude is an unquenchable thirst for robust expansion.

Empower your seasoned employees to take action through teamwork. Inspire your new employees to reach high performance goals. In both cases, your employees must guide your company's growth, not simply react to it. Yesterday’s performance goals are now too small. Last year’s inspired idea must lead to next year’s even better idea.

Tap both institutional knowledge (the seasoned employee) and forward momentum (the new employees) by creating teams combining both types of employees charged with a common goal.


Just as you cannot see the entire picture without context, all your employees—the pioneers who signed onto your original vision and the newest hires—cannot do their best work without support. Of the leadership competencies for growing a business, you must value lifelong learning. Provide educational and training opportunities for all employees.

Franklin University’s white paper on using education and training as a business growth strategy points to four well-documented results:

  1. You increase employee retention and generate greater employee attraction

  2. You gain greater employee creativity and innovation

  3. You build in and expand organizational knowledge and l

  4. Your company gains a solid return on investment

  5. Leadership competencies

When seasoned workers and newly hired neophytes alike see expanding opportunities, they gain confidence, improve their ability to communicate to you and each other, and lose the fear of being left behind as your business grows.

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