Good Growth vs. Bad Growth
Most leaders have a natural bent for growth. It’s a seductive value.
Growth means to become larger, greater or bigger; expand or gain; a progression.
But there’s a difference between good growth and bad growth.
Consider the examples set by two different leaders who embraced this value during the same time period.
- Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric (GE), is often honored and celebrated as a leader of good growth. He led a 20-year period of growth (1981-2001) where GE’s market capitalization grew by $400 billion.
- Then there is Ken Lay, founder and former Chairman and CEO of Enron, who is often remembered with much disdain. Even though he grew a $100 billion business, it proved to be bad growth culminating with fraud charges and corporate abuse that ultimately led to the company’s demise and bankruptcy in 2001.
Clearly, not all growth is equal.
- Good growth is about growing a healthy business; expanding capacity; engaging bigger sponsors; advancing people skills, and more.
- Bad growth is about growing unnecessary debt; expanding the wrong kind of behaviors; engaging with bigger problems; allowing issues to progress into a crisis, and more.
While it’s impossible to eliminate all aspects of bad growth, good leaders recognize and manage it, and continually focus on good growth.
Equally important, good leaders clearly communicate the difference.