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David Mills
By David Mills on January 14, 2022

The Authentic Growth Leader

The rapid pace of change since 2020 has thrust many leaders into the role of growth leader for their organization.  For some it is recovery, and for others it is a response to big new opportunities. Growth leaders can be found in almost every industry and with a variety of job titles. Some have a growth title like "growth manager, while others are working in RevOps. Most don't have a special title at all because they've added the growth leader job to their existing position. Whether they are an owner, a partner, a C-suite leader, or a department head, a growth leader's job has a single central characteristic: their desk is where the buck stops for company growth. 


The growth leadership role extends beyond job title to moving an organization forward.

Authentic Growth Leaders are on a Journey

Every leader who steps up to lead growth discovers that it is a mixed bag. They are faced with a combination of existing teams and processes with elements that are both helpful and challenging, and the need to shape them to meet changes in the market.

The distance between the teams, culture, and processes that the growth leader inherits and their growth goals defines the journey.

In a world where businesses thrive as they effectively reach both the online and in-person world, growth requires a coordinated effort across marketing, sales, and operations, to help previously siloed teams work together more effectively.  Authentic growth leaders major in leadership rather than simply in tactics. They deliver on the heavy lift of building across departments and roles, transition legacy methods into modern approaches, and increase the visibility on performance while the competition pushes back.

Authentic growth leaders have a strong vision of the customer, company, and team, and understand how they are telling a story together.

Authentic Gro

5 Characteristics of Growth Leaders

1. Growth leaders aren't growth hackers.

They are not a single generalist who applies a variety of the latest tactics. They may apply some growth hacking principles, but know that sustainable growth always involves collaboration across roles, and often requires hybrid teams from inside and outside the organization.

2. Growth Leaders See Beyond Departments

While many growth leaders also function as department heads, reaching across departments is almost always part of the equation that leads to success. They bring their expertise from their sales, marketing, customer service, or operations background, but they always appreciate and connect with skillsets beyond their current rule. 

For a growth leader, collaboration leads to sustained wins. Join the Authentic Growth Leader Conversation.

3. Even with a business growth focus, growth leaders are customer-centric

While tracking KPIs and execution across the organization, the growth leader never loses sight of a customer-centric approach. They are careful to keep the balance sheet of "value delivered" firmly set for their customer's perception of value.

4. Hack of the month immunity

Growth leaders look past the latest tactic that is gaining popularity to balance every new effort in the unique brand and values of the company and the needs and preferences of the customer. They tend to convey this lastest trend immunity to the teams they work with and build a more strategic and value-driven approach to growth.

5. Often found outside of their lane

Staying in their silo, or in their own lane, is one rule that growth leaders often break. They lean into departments, processes, and mindsets that they find all through the organization to foster better cooperation and harness growth. While this may cause territorial fear, it is really a key part of the job.

Authentic Gro

Authenticity for Growth Leaders 

There isn't a manual for being a growth leader, just a journey. Authentic growth leaders are first and foremost learners. The art of conversation with a listening ear is one of their strongest skills. They balance empathy and tenacity to engage team members in a shared journey. 

Authenticity means creating an environment where failure is not terminal, and experiments that didn't work lead to learning and better future outcomes. Rather than a military march for obedience, the authentic growth leader cultivates a sense of shared ownership, creative investment, and tireless execution.

Since learning is one critical role for authentic growth leaders, constant personal learning and communicating shared insights is a normal routine. Conversations that engage leaders from outside the company compliment what teams are learning and sharing internally. 

To be an authentic growth leader the journey of change and progress has to be just as important as reaching larger goals. Along the way, key principles emerge from what they learn in the growth journey, as well as from leaders outside the organization. 

The principles make their way into organizational culture and become sayings and practices that set the organization up for sustained growth.

Join our regular Authentic Growth Leader conversation with online discussions, articles, and tools for the journey.

Authentic Gro

Story Collaborative is an outsourced growth team that works collaboratively with internal growth leaders to complement internal teams and accelerate growth with websites, agile marketing, and strategy.

Published by David Mills January 14, 2022
David Mills