I've been blessed to be a part of several organizations experiencing exponential growth. Once in business and with a few churches, we had what was considered explosive growth.
As wonderful as growth is—and as much as we enjoy it as leaders—there are tensions associated with fast growth. Here are seven of them:
1. Miscommunication. There is too much activity to keep everyone informed about everything. That bothers those who are used to "being in the know." The organization will need to improve in this area, but during fast growth, expect mishaps in communication.
2. Changing roles. Jobs will change. People will do things they never expected to do. There will be lots of "all hands on deck" opportunities. No one gets a reprieve from doing what needs to be done.
3. Power struggles. There will almost always be turf scuffles during fast growth. One potential reason is what used to be a small, controlled group of people making decisions now needs to broaden to include more people. That may feel uncomfortable to some.
Providing clarity of roles can help some, but continually reminding people of the vision seems to work best. Still, some simply may not like the new size of the organization—and may not last.
4. Burnout. There will never be enough leaders or people during times of fast growth. It's fun for a while, but begins to wear on people after an extended period. New leaders must be recruited and developed.
5. Confusion. "I don't know." You can expect to hear that phrase a lot during times of fast growth. And, many times the person saying that will be the leader. And, that's okay. It's part of the process. Still, this is a matter to continually work to improve upon over time.
6. Complacency. When people don't know what to do—they often do nothing. That's where leadership is needed, but in seasons of fast growth there aren't always enough leaders to cover all the bases. If you're not careful, excellence suffers—and few care. During seasons of fast growth, leaders need to help streamline focus, give clear expectations and hold people accountable for agreed-upon goals and objectives. (Don't ignore all structures—especially in times of fast growth.)
7. Stretched structures. Current structures will almost never be sufficient to sustain fast growth. The organization will never be the same. New systems and structures will be needed. Leadership must focus on development as much as it does the growth and maintenance of the organization.
None of these are reasons to avoid fast growth, but awareness is the first step to addressing problems.
Now you know. Here's to fast growth. The tension is worth it.
Ron Edmondson is the senior pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit ronedmondson.com.
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