What to read: “The Growth Leader” by Scott K. Edinger 

Scott K. Edinger, based in Tampa, has written three books and more than a hundred articles in Forbes and Harvard Business Review, among other publications.

Edinger has worked with chief executive officers and senior leaders to develop pragmatic strategies and execute approaches to drive top and bottom-line results. 

Scott K. Edinger

His latest book, “The Growth Leader: Strategies to Drive the Top and Bottom Lines,” published by Fast Company Press, is described as “Essential reading for CEOs and anyone who wants to lead” and “A crash course on correctly orienting, and aligning, your company’s strategy for growth.”

His previous books include “The Hidden Leader: Discover and Develop Greatness Within Your Company” and “The Inspiring Leader.” His Harvard Business Review article “Making Yourself Indispensable” has been called a “classic in the making.” 

Below is an excerpt from Edinger’s latest book. 

A NOTE TO CEOS: Don’t Delegate This Book

This is a leadership book about business growth. It is not a sales book. The mere mention of sales in a business book often changes the category from leadership to sales, but I assure you that this book is for you. Yes, you’ll see the word “sales” frequently enough in these pages, especially with regard to your relationship to the sales organization. But if your business relies on a professional sales team to connect with your customers, growth and sales are inextricably linked. If you hand this book off to your sales team, or to your sales leadership, without reading it yourself, you’re making a huge mistake. Based on research you’ll see soon, it is a mistake that may cause you to miss out on winning 25 to 53 percent more of the buying decision criteria on active, engaged and loyal customers. If you delegate this book down the line, you’ve already missed the point: Only you, as a senior leader, have the power to direct your company to continuous and sustainable success. 

Keep in mind that we’re using sales as a featured example here. Many of the frameworks in this book apply to your entire organization, but the sales function holds the particular distinction of being frequently misunderstood by executives who view it only as a function, rather than as a powerful differentiator. If you share that attitude, it is holding you back from connecting with your company’s lifeline — the customer and prospects who are not yet customers. Sales is just another part of the whole. To focus your whole company on growth, you must bring all of its pieces together. That crucially includes leadership and sales.

Growth is a leadership issue, not a sales issue. Although many CEOs are focused on the bottom line, they often overlook the fact that the best way to drive bottom-line performance is to start with a healthy top line. Sustained, strategic growth — whether that means total revenue volume, net income growth, margin expansion, increased numbers of products or services, improved Net Promoter Scores or other measures of customer loyalty — requires an organization to do more than sell by communicating the value of products or services. It must create value in the way it sells. An organization must help customers with insights, expertise and experience that provide real solutions to help customers achieve their objectives. It must deliver a compelling experience that adds value beyond the product itself. And, as CEO, it’s your job to guide that experience. Since growth is central to the execution of your strategy, few sales organizations could create an excellent sales experience without your leadership. 

A recent study shows that 28 percent of CEOs adopt a hands-off policy with sales, another 40 percent are involved in an ad hoc way and 18 percent focus on dealmaking while doing little else to coordinate with sales or support customer relationships. Only 14 percent are strategically involved as “Growth Leaders,” collaborating with, and supporting, their sales organization. Put another way, a full 86 percent of CEOs do nothing to align sales with strategy. Sales is the execution of your strategy in the field — every day, hundreds, or thousands, of times each day — and that 86 percent disconnect is a problem. The c-suite — including you — must be appropriately involved with every department and must provide strategic leadership to each functional leadership team to ensure the successful execution of the company’s go-to-market strategy. 

A “Growth Leader,” however, knows that profitable growth lies at the intersection of strategy, leadership and sales. Without a clear strategy, inspiring leadership and aligned sales, you’re likely to join that 86 percent of disconnected CEOs. 

The book is set for release on October 24. You can purchase the book on Amazon and wherever books are sold, including The Oxford Exchange and Barnes and Noble.

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