July 10, 2015
A recent study by Circle Research and SAP amongst 800 senior execs at companies with between 25 to 1,000 employees, found that 90% of business leaders consider their company ambitious. No surprises there then. However, interestingly, they found that only 46% of them thought their company was very ambitious.
At the same time they found that there was a direct correlation between ambition and growth. 48% of very ambitious companies experienced more than 30% growth in the past two years, while only 25% of ambitious companies did.
This is why at Antidote we firmly believe that there are a lot of companies that need to inject more ambition into their business – this study shows that more than half of all businesses are lacking ambition. There are lots of reasons why some businesses aren’t as ambitious as they should be. Survival has been a priority for many with the decade-long recession we have just been through. Some businesses have just lost their focus. Others, their fighting spirit.
That’s not good. Businesses have to be more ambitious again. How can you inject more ambition into your business? This is what this study showed:
1. Work with ambitious people Very ambitious companies hire very ambitious people. 83% of business leaders in very ambitious companies consider themselves very ambitious – they strive to get promotions and pay-rises, they seek extra responsibility and they seek recognition amongst their peers and industry. Conversely, only 33% of business leaders in ambitious companies see themselves this way. That is a massive difference.
2. Take a step back and look at your brand, market and context on a regular basis Very ambitious people are all more likely to see themselves as ‘innovative’, ‘entrepreneurial’, ‘big picture thinkers’ and ‘connected’. However, most businesses get stuck in the trenches – they don’t take the time to look at the big picture and look for opportunities. Most businesses get trapped in the same old routine and don’t challenge what they are doing enough.
3. Have a long-term plan and be very focused on executing it The study showed that the more successful companies have much greater clarity over how they plan to grow. They place much greater emphasis on expanding into new markets, developing new products and services and understanding and exceeding the expectations of their customers. They are more driven to transform the lives of their customers.
4. Aim to be the best The most successful businesses are obsessed with winning awards and accolades from their peers. They want to set standards, not follow the herd.
5. Become agile The study showed that the most success companies aim to be more agile and responsive to change.
This study rings true with our experience. Yes, of course everyone says they are ambitious. But some companies and people are way more ambitious than others. For some people – like Sir Dave Brailsford and Simon Mottram,- it is hard wired into their DNA. For challenger brands and start-ups it’s also there – it has to be if you are small but want to be beat bigger boys. But this study shows there are a whole lot of businesses out there who could be a lot more ambitious.