Daniel Murphy steers direction at The Growth Coach Featured

7:00pm EDT February 23, 2009

Just having ideas about

where you want to take

your company isn’t good

enough to get it there, says

Daniel Murphy. That’s why

Murphy, president and

founder of The Growth

Coach, says you need to

write those ideas down.

“If you don’t write it down,

it doesn’t become concrete,

and you can’t be held

accountable if you don’t

write it down,” says Murphy,

who leads the business

coaching organization, which

employs about 55 people.

Smart Business spoke with

Murphy about how to establish a clear direction and how

to elicit and evaluate employee feedback on that direction.

Q. How can a leader

communicate a clear direction

to employees?

First, you need to walk the

talk yourself. So, as a leader,

once a quarter, I go engage in

a strategic focusing process.

I get away from sort of the

chaos and the confusion and

the complexity of the office. I

leave for a full day, going

through one of our coaching

sessions and spending the

time. I slow down; I get away

from the office. I elevate out of

the details and do a full day of

really reflecting, thinking, planning and shaping the big plan

that I see us having to have to

get where we want to go.

Every quarter, I’m walking

the talk where I am holding

myself accountable for the big

plan for me taking the time to

think and get clarity of direction. It starts really with the

leader or with that business

owner taking the time to get away from the details of the

business and do some real

thinking and planning, strategically, on, ‘How do I improve

and grow this business? How

do I improve and grow as a


Step two is constantly listening and learning from

your team. You can’t have all

the answers yourself.

Q. How do you create an

environment to elicit input

from employees?

You have to have the

mindset to say, ‘I want

to hear all ideas to help

us get better at what we

do.’ So it’s that theory of

optimization. You’re

always looking for ideas

to get better. ‘We can

always do better’ is the

attitude. As a leader, it’s

never like, ‘We have

arrived,’ or, ‘We are good

enough.’ You are always

challenging that.

It starts with you as a

leader with that mind-set. It’s strategic, and it

says, ‘How can we get

better?’ So that mindset

and attitude permeates

your organization.

Secondly, you’ve got to

really drive home the point

that we are a marketing company first and foremost. No

matter what industry we are

in, we are in the marketing

business — that our main purpose is to attract, serve,

delight, entertain our customers at a profitable manner.

When you have that philosophy of, ‘We are a marketing

company first and foremost,’

I don’t care what department

you work in. I don’t care if

you are the receptionist. I

don’t care if you are working in the factory. Any idea that is

going to help us do that better

or more efficiently or effectively, I want to know about it.

When you introduce to a

company that everyone is part

of the marketing ... you get the

ideas because they understand

that we live on the profitable

revenue we generate. You

bring everyone on board.

The other thing is, you have

to have an empowered management and employee team.

And as a leader to really grow,

you have to let go. But, you want to be in charge, and you

don’t need to be in control.

If you are controlling everyone and micromanaging,

you’re not going to get the ideas to surface because it’s

not going to an environment

where they think it’s OK to

take risks and it’s OK to fail.

Q. How do you elicit and

evaluate feedback from your


There has to be a filter mechanism of, ‘Is this something

that is going to help drive profitable revenues to us? Is this

something that’s going to help

us reduce cost? Is this something that’s going to help us

dramatically serve our customers or clients better?’

... Whatever your metrics

are or whatever your filtering process, there’s got to be

three or four questions you

ask to make sure it’s going to

get through those filters

because you don’t want to

waste time on a lot of trivial


You want to surface it and

you want to put it through

the filters. Everyone needs

to feel good that their ideas

are at least being heard and

considered. They can’t all be

adopted, but it’s more of a

culture you establish that we

want these ideas, we’re

going to vet these ideas.

The first thing is you have

to have an environment

where you want all those

ideas surfaced, so there is no

judgmental evaluation too

early. So, the ideas surface

(and) you are meeting with

your management team on a

regular basis.

For each company, that

rhythm and timing is different. It may be weekly —

that’s where they surface the


HOW TO REACH: The Growth Coach, (513) 563-0570 or www.thegrowthcoach.com