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Posted: December 30, 2014

Best of CoBiz: A top-notch leadership model

On the road to a vision statement

Laurence B. Valant

Editor's note: Here is another valuable excerpt from the new success book by national business consultant Laurence B. Valant and partner Gayle W. Hustad, "Lead and Manage! The definitive guide for getting the results you want." 

I am often asked to speak at various business functions, and following one particular luncheon presentation, I was contacted by the president of a consulting engineering services firm who was facing organizational challenges that had become aggravated by his rapid growth. Don's company provided engineering consulting services to a client base that included large international banks and mega-sized utility companies for capital projects involving hundreds of millions of dollars and requiring several years to complete. Their world was highly challenging, a high-stakes work environment in which the competition was fierce. They became our client.

Bright, confident, unassuming, Don outlined an aggressive vision for growing his company. He saw his enterprise evolving from its current levels to becoming the fastest growing company in its market. He believed they could become the preferred service provider in their markets. He knew that the drive to greener sources of energy would provide unusual opportunities for his firm. They would need to be nimble and react quickly to the shrinking of traditional sources of power and the changes in the mix of energy generation that were imminent.

Don outlined the new markets they would enter where their technological superiority would give them a competitive advantage and provide an opportunity for sustained rapid rates of growth. I challenged Don to define how his organization would need to grow if he were to achieve his vision. Don's vision of his organization included a combination of youth and experienced management competence, a combination he felt was critical in achieving superior levels of customer service.

When I asked Don the same question I ask every new client, "What does success look like in five to 10 years?" His reply was a staggering challenge, "I believe we can grow our revenues 400 percent in the following five years." We went to work with Don to help him formalize this vision.

To reach his aggressive objective, Don's overarching strategy was based on leveraging his organizational and technological capabilities for entry into new markets, while continuing to support his base business to provide the cash flow for new market entry. He identified the product types and the kinds of returns such products would deliver to their customers, and developed a product-based value proposition to be communicated to his business unit managers.

This was an important step. The value proposition specified the returns that could be expected by a customer on their investment. Don gave his business unit managers the basis on which to develop their specific product plans as well as the parameters of their expected financial returns. Guided by the value proposition, Don's managers understood what would be required to satisfy their target market, customer requirements, and the requirements of the firm.

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Laurence B. Valant is President and CEO of Valant & Co., a Denver-based business performance improvement consultancy that has worked with almost 300 firms to increase their value by billions of dollars. He is co-author of the hot-selling new book, “Make Plan! With Effective Execution” and now, “Lead and Manage!” Valant can be reached at or at 303-589-3840. If you want more information or would like to order a copy of “Stop Breaking These Rules! 100 Hard-Hitting Truths for Business Integrity and Performance,” please visit

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