When Shane Evangelist
took over as CEO of U.S. Auto Parts Network Inc. in
2007, he wasn’t daunted by the
tremendous growth of the
online provider of auto parts.
Evangelist’s success at developing Blockbuster’s online
movie rental service had perfectly prepared him for leading
U.S. Auto Parts, which grew
from 2005 net sales of $59.7
million to $161 million in 2007.

He says the key to successfully
leading growth is clear communication.

“Ambiguity is the worst thing
you can have in an organization,” Evangelist says. “If you
can get that team so that there is
clarity on direction, roles and
responsibilities, and clarity in
their individual objectives, you
can build a very high-performing

Smart Business spoke with
Evangelist about how to ensure
your message is being heard
and why you should consider
your employees’ skills when
developing your vision.

Give clear directions and listen
To be successful, you
need to have clear communication on the strategy of the business, clear communication on
the roles of the individuals and
clear communication of their
personal objectives.

The first thing is making sure
folks understand where the
company’s going, what their role
is and what their job is in that

The second thing is you have to
have your ears open. You have to
listen to what people are telling
you, and you have to be able to
react relatively quickly to address
those concerns, whether they
are unsubstantiated concerns
and you address it those ways
or they are very substantiated
concerns and you take action.

The last key to good leadership is ensuring that the team is
working together; that starts
and stops with the guy at the
top. If any one of those three
things are off, you’re probably
going to run into some issues.

Develop your vision with your personnel in mind. You look at the
skill sets you have and try to
map the market opportunities
to the skill sets of the organization. When you get a market
opportunity that is large enough
with the skill set of the organization that matches the ability to
grow in that market, it’s easy to
set a vision.

When you’ve got a market
opportunity that is large, but you
don’t have the skill set to attack
that market, then you’ve got to
create the need for change or
the reason to believe — why we
have to enter that market and
why we’ve got to change what
we’re doing as a business to get
there, and how we’re either
going to stretch people or bring
new people in to do that.

But setting the overall vision of
the business can’t be done solely on market opportunity, and it
can’t be done solely on skill sets
internally. It has to be a combination of the two, and it has to
be done with a realistic mindset.