Member Sudhir Aggarwal Speaks: Go for the Gold, But Fall Back on Silver and Bronze

The Challenge:

The case at hand was brought by the CEO of a company that was at the midpoint of an aspirational four year growth plan with an Olympic theme concluding during Rio 2016. In the first two years of the plan, the company doubled in size. However, looking at the next two years, the CEO was worried the company would miss the mark.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

If I were in your situation, I’d stick to the Olympic growth goal you laid out two years ago and go for the gold. However, create fall back goals — silver and bronze — to claim a victory even if you don’t hit 100%.

Leaders inspire their teams to go for the gold. Without this aspirational goal, would your company have really doubled in size over the last two years? Still, I suggest you further embrace the Olympic theme and create fall-back goals so you can claim victory even if gold is elusive in 2016. To do so, go back to your team and have an honest discussion. Distill your successes from the first two years and then look pragmatically at the growth opportunities in the two years ahead. Get team buy-in: what do the scenarios of varying success look like?

Hold steady to your plan. What is the use of making goals if we abandon them during times of uncertainty? Set up an incentive structure where a gold medal is the most rewarding outcome, but a bronze medal is still something to be proud of. Position your team for success. With such a strategy, you retain your motivational structure, stick to the plan, keep your credibility and give your team the chance to have a victory, even if they don’t perform perfectly.