How Enabling Employees Leads to Sustainable Growth

Manager: “I’m concerned about our training budget. What if we invest in all this training and the employees leave?”

Executive: “I’m concerned too. What if we don’t invest in the employees and they stay?”

For some reason, it seems that there is a great focus now in management writing on sustainable organizations: I recently referred to a book I am reading on Corporate Lifecycles, by Ichak Adizes, and “what to do about them.” A recently-posted McKinsey & Company article talks about lean management: “The organization that renews itself: Lasting value from lean management.” A recent presentation at an industry conference on Leadership posited that “Leadership”, by definition, “must express a vision and then lead the path to effective execution of that vision.”

But, importantly, execution of that vision must lead to an organization that is not only growing, but one where the growth is sustainable. Interestingly, to achieve that, the leader must be able to not only articulate the vision and establish a cohesive team, but also inspire and enable the team to achieve its goals. 

So that “enable” part, I think, is key. It is about training and helping prepare tomorrow’s leaders to do more than the past leaders have – for if we only train them to do what we have done, how do we create a sustainably growing organization? Training comes in many forms: structured and formal, mentoring, experiential, and simple exposure to thought leaders and others with new perspectives and mindsets.

This week, I am at what is branded as “The Best Week in Baking” – two conferences back-to-back on the baking industry. At the first conference, along with the great minds and experiences of the many baking experts, there were also speakers on effective public speaking, new perspectives on leadership, visioning, and a graffiti artist. There is some rich content here and many different opportunities from which to learn and grow. As I sat listening to many of these speakers, I could not help but think about some of my colleagues and how I wished they were exposed to these thoughts, ideas and perspectives as well.

Exposure to these speakers weaves a fabric of experience that, when combined with all other experiences, creates a wardrobe of skills and capabilities, along with the confidence to use them. Without that experience, the wardrobe is not as complete as it can be otherwise. So a responsibility of leadership is to enable the team by equipping them with a full wardrobe of experience and opportunity. While it is not feasible to provide everyone with the same new and unique experiences to build that wardrobe, we certainly need to be more open to providing those opportunities whenever we can.

You never know which one is going to make the difference.


Learn all you can from the mistakes of others.  You won't have time to make them all yourself. 

Alfred Sheinwold

Information's pretty thin stuff unless mixed with experience. 

Clarence Day,The Crow's Nest