By now, you likely consider yourself something of a Small Giants connoisseur. You’ve read the book, you’ve attended a Summit, maybe you’ve even recruited a few Small Giants of your own into the Community. Or maybe you don’t have a clue about what a Small Giant is? In order to earn your Small Giants stripes, there are a few things you should know. Like, what’s the deal with the Small Giants fish? And do all Small Giants want to stay small? The clouds are about to part for you… That’s right, we’re blowing the lid off of the Small Giants philosophy to help shed some light on what we’re always saying— stick with us and you’ll learn everything you didn’t realize you needed to know about our Community.
What is a Small Giant?
First, let’s separate the who from the what. Originally, Small Giants were companies that were profiled in Bo Burlingham’s book Small Giants: Companies That Choose To Be Great Instead of Big. Since the book was originally published in 2006, many leaders resonated with the themes from the book and either considered themselves Small Giants or aspired to get there someday. The Small Giants Community was formed in 2010 to help identify, connect and develop values-driven business leaders – those who consider themselves along the journey to becoming a true small Giants.
Is my company a Small Giant?
We hear it from our leaders all the time. We know, this question can keep you up at night. Well rest easy, Small Giants — there’s a simple answer. The book outlined six qualities of a Small Giant. If we’re honest with ourselves, those of us who run companies are somewhere along the continuum – we’re good at some of the qualities and lacking at others. In fact, we’re not sure you ever really “get there.” Most Small Giants companies are actually too humble to admit it because we always know there are areas for improvement and we’re trying to build these practices into our businesses for the long term. Want to brush up on the six qualities of a Small Giant? We’ve got you covered.
Am I Small? Or am I a Giant?
In our eyes, you’re a bit of both — and that’s just right. Don’t get too caught up with size. You’re Small because you don’t just grow for growth’s sake. Don’t get us wrong – we all want to grow. You’re a Giant because in addition to growth, you prioritize other reasons for being in business, like achieving your purpose, making the world a better place, creating a great culture for your employees and customers and contributing to your community. You’d likely turn down an opportunity for growth to protect these other interests.
In our world, values driven business leaders strive to live by the Small Giants qualities are most like to have companies deserving of the title of Small Giants.
What does values-driven leadership really mean?
We know — we use this term a lot. We’re only about 300 words in and we’ve already dropped the “values-driven” buzzword upwards of five times. But there’s a reason we have such allegiance to this phrase, and we think you should, too. Let’s unpack what “values-driven leadership” really means.
Values-driven leadership stands in natural opposition to traditional leadership, which might be termed “command and control” leadership. In a command and control world, leaders are directive - just telling their employees what to do, when to do it and how to get there. There is little interest in input or autonomy. A values driven leader, on the other hand, leads by establishing and living the company’s core values. Those values generally foster inclusion, collaboration and teamwork. They respect the fact that the world of leadership is changing, and success comes from the notion that caring for employees in the totality of their lives will drive happier employees and greater performance.
Likewise, values-driven leadership fosters a healthy company culture: your company’s core values are in harmony with day-to-day operations; aligning employees, customers, and other stakeholders to a shared vision. Simply put, it is the conscious decision to always do the right thing, leading with your values in all aspects of the business.
What does growing with purpose mean?
Growing with purpose is the philosophy that in business, there are goals more important than growth for growth’s sake. Values-driven leaders seek out more satisfying goals: ideals like creating a great workplace, fostering strong relationships with employees and customers, and being great at what they do. They do this not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because they believe that meaningful growth and profitability will follow. When you marry those aspirational qualities with a sound business model, you’ve cracked the code for growing with purpose.
You guys use the word "mojo" a lot. Where does that come from?
A company with mojo is equivalent to a business leader with charisma. It’s that wow factor that hits you as soon as you walk through the company doors. Bo Burlingham first popularized the term in the Small Giants book, through a conversation with Gary Erickson of Clif Bar. While it’s an allusive quality to define, think of it as the soul of the company; the buzz of excitement and passion that permeates the walls of an office and the people within it.
And lastly… Why the fish?
First of all, because it’s adorable. More importantly: it’s pays homage to the Small Giants book, the inspiration behind our Community. To us, the fish symbolizes that being a fish out of water is a good thing. There’s plenty of fish in the sea of big business — but Small Giants challenge the traditional way of leading. They test new waters, yearn for the vast and the endless sea! Pretty inspirational for such a little guy, right?
Are you getting the most out of your Small Giants Community membership? Remember to sign up for our next online Fishbowl and keep up with the latest from the Community on our new mobile app, powered by ForbesConnect! To get started, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an iPhone or Android login. Got questions, ideas, or want to introduce someone to the Small Giants Community? Drop us a line to start the conversation!