Smart Growth: How to Grow Your People to Grow Your Company

Whitney Johnson. Harvard Business Review, $30 (256p) ISBN 978-1-64782-115-9

“The more you understand about your deep longing to grow... the greater your capacity to grow your people, to grow your company,” writes Johnson (Build an A-Team), CEO of the talent development company Disruption Advisors, in this cogent survey. Johnson uses the idea of an S curve to explore how best to grow and implement change, both as individuals and in a group. She follows the map through its three main parts and stresses that it’s most critical to get things right at the “explorer stage,” the first phase, where one’s goal is set. To that end, Johnson proposes prompts: readers should consider if their goal is achievable, easy to test, and worth the cost. The next phase is the “sweet spot,” where the learning really ramps up, and then there’s “mastery,” where it’s key to “say yes to new challenges or opportunities to find new rewards.” Johnson also offers an insightful look at how leaders can establish an environment that fosters growth in others: managers should not “operate in a bubble,” for example, but collaborate. Key takeaways round out each section, and Johnson is equal parts practical and inspiring. Leaders feeling stuck in a rut may likely find this to be the kick they need to shake things up. (Jan.)
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