A chance meeting happened in the crowded courtyard restaurant of an Italian palace where a man waiting for his tab allowed us to share his table.
We spoke. The man is an architect. We both had watched the show “Grand Designs.” I told him of my grandfather, who was the first municipal architect of Tel Aviv. When he asked about my work, I explained “people ask to speak with me.”
Without further prompt, he told me that he wanted to take his business to the next level and we exchanged contact information.
How am I to frame the conversation we just agreed to have? I see framing it as my responsibility given that he has already asked his question.
Here, then, is the first step of taking your business to the next level.
Typically when a client asks for help moving up to the next level, they are thinking of strategies and tactics: e.g. “To reach my goal of having a business of “x” size what do I have to do vis a vis staffing, marketing, offerings to clients? How do I fund these new activities? Where do I start?”
While these business questions matter and will be answered, they can often be a distraction from the type of inquiry needed to foster true growth. The art of consulting is to cast aside the cafeteria line of cookie cutter solutions and to skillfully draw forth the fullest expression of self that your client can muster. Understanding the self is core.
As professional observer, it’s already clear that this man in the Italian palace sees “more” but doesn’t know how to attain it. He has at least an intuitive sense that he’s missing something.
What he might not yet know is that his current business is the manifestation of him. It’s impossible for his business to be anything other than him. If he pays attention to something and acts upon it then he has already realized it. His hiring and managing of staff, it comes from how he interacts with people. Much of this is probably innate. Same for his marketing and how he deals with regulations and regulators. We could think of his business as the sum total of his habits.
This man asks a near stranger to help him take his business to the next level. As receiver of his question, I know that to realize his goals he has to look inside. My role is to help him take that look. I help him understand his habits.
It matters very much how this man came to feel that there is “something more.” Where did he get the idea that there is a next level for his business? Such an idea can be inspired by another’s business but his next level cannot be borrowed. It must come from him.
Along the way to the next level, I will help this man prepare the way not only for the challenges and joys that change will bring to him but also for the effects of his changes on his family, his employees, customers and competitors.
Many an attempt at moving to the next level has crashed into the resistance of these important others. To ensure successful change, all stakeholders must be a respected part of the process. My role with this business owner and visionary is to help him lead his change with as much grace as possible.
But, moving up is not all about grace. It takes guts. It takes passion to play on a bigger stage. As consultant, I help you honor your passion.
This has been an introduction to the mindset required for managing a change up to the next level.
Understanding yourself drives a robust change process that is centered on your vision.