You wouldn’t be able to sense from her calm and poised demeanor at the ScaleUp Summit 2018 in New Orleans how the role of disruption played out for Pamela Carrington Rotto, now COO of the forward-thinking company, J.C. Hart. Despite the ever lurking presence of rapid company disruption, for the past 18 years Pamela Carrington’s leadership and internal coaching as a COO have been constantly pushed and tested by the cycle of disruption. “Disruption is the new norm,” she said with a smile on her face. “We need to know it, expect it, and figure out ways to embrace it.”
Along with her team, she has had to build disruption into their company’s business model. Their effort has paid off in recognized achievements developing and sustaining a culture and workforce that significantly outperformed industry standards for employee retention and quality results while rapidly scaling the business. Leaders across industries and geographic locations have all started taking notice hoping to achieve similar results.
In our thought-provoking interview at the ScaleUp summit in New Orleans in May 2018, Carrington Rotto unpacked what she described as the three biggest takeaways she learned thanks to a Master Business Course packed with exponential principles, which she referred to as “refreshing, remarkable, and revolutionary.”
Her course training with Salim Ismail, bestselling author of Exponential Organizations, who teaches companies and organizations around the world how to use the exponential methodology (ExO) to grow their business more efficiently, has opened her eyes to what it means to embrace leadership from an exponential perspective. Without true growth and learning, she would learn that there is no real benefit to leadership especially in today’s digital age of constant disruption.
Exponential leadership means having the courage to reflect on personal and professional growth
As a Gazelles International Certified Coach, Carrington Rotto candidly shared her feelings about disruption. “We haven’t always embraced disruption in business because it can get messy.” “Companies have to understand and anticipate that disruption is a constant. It causes companies to do something internally but it puts leadership in a position to lead from that perspective.”
She went on to paint a picture of earlier days of building leadership when the noise of disruption was a bulging constant. In a world that is constantly moving ahead with exponential speed, having the courage to engage in a deeper conversation often feels risky and “disruptive,” but it’s the only way to grow, Carrington Rotto argued. The alternative of course, is to stay safe.
Had it not been for the principles and methodologies of the Exponential Organizations Master Business Course, Carrington Rotto maintained, she wouldn’t have had deeper conversations with colleagues and coaches around growth in an age of disruption and constant change. But mainly, she wouldn’t have pushed herself to grow as a leader and act boldly despite her fears.
Exponential growth means learning to challenge ourselves
Leading by example begins with learning to supersize an idea, which is necessary for personal and professional growth. From this place it’s possible to measure the actual rate of learning as the new indicator for leadership success — an idea Kent Langley, head coach of the Exponential Organizations Masters Business Course attributed to Ismail for its progressiveness and forward thinking. The design and framework of the course itself gives the structure and content for those forward-thinkers to act boldly and feel comfortably taking calculated risks.
Using the visual of a chicken egg, Carrington Rotto reflected upon an earlier time in her leadership about how the size of that egg was also equated with the scope of what she thought was “forward thinking.” But the speaker in front of her at the time had encouraged her along with everyone else in the audience to think way bigger than they had been accustomed to.
“He challenged us to upscale our idea to the size to an ostrich egg, one that was significant enough to achieve,” she reflected thoughtfully. “In hindsight, this was my first exposure to the concept of a Massive Transformative Purpose,” or MTP – a simple yet powerful concept that Salim and Kent, have put forth in their Master Business Course. To influence a team or business goals, a leader needs to move forward with a strong sense of direction which informs next steps.
With the help of further conversations with her peers and coaches in the program, she discussed the process of piecing together her Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) — one that would ultimately push her towards a more organized path forward. Her MTP is “breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty, once and for all.”
From our interview, I have come to understand that by challenging herself to move forward despite her fears about the unknown, Carrington Rotto was better able to implement internal and external traits of exponential leadership. She could now lead with a greater sense of purpose and self-awareness. What started as a simple conversation with other leaders around the subject of MTP has now evolved as her personal and professional mission which she refers to as a way to “inspire others to connect with their vision and empower them to use their assets to bring benefit to the world.”
Exponential growth requires ongoing perseverance and experimentation
Even though Carrington Rotto has officially completed the ExO course, she realized that exponential learning requires a lifelong commitment to stay open to experimentation.
In a business world where disruption is the norm, applying principles of exponential learning has been “impactful learning made even more salient by Salim and Kent when it came to understanding what it meant to work from an exponential perspective.”
To test these methodologies in the real world by supporting clients, she deliberately focused on a client whose leaders perceive the company as fast moving and scaling rapidly. But the reality that progress was classified as “average,” relative to others. And yet, the eye-opening discovery was that this company had not yet developed strategically to be called an Exponential Organization. It was at that point in our interview, that Carrington Rotto realized she was on the right track.
Two of the most important personality traits for an exponential leader to have are the courage and perseverance to learn, adapt and ultimately, disrupt the given business
Motivated to challenge her thinking and better serve her clients was her biggest takeaway from the Master Business course. This means that in order to lead exponentially, one has to stay open to perseverance and courage. “Exponential growth is accompanied by levels of experimentation which requires employees and customers alike to persevere. This is best achieved when they see their needs and desires recognized at the highest levels.” At these levels of experimentation, exponential leaders are not driven by their roles within a hierarchical paradigm or structure; but rather, use a process-oriented approach to increase scalability.
“Information can obviously help accelerate the process,” she contended. But even at the information and data-driven level, “we must be certain that the information is correct, relevant, and sufficient.” And that doesn’t mean eliminating the need for trust and mutually beneficial collaboration that is so difficult to achieve especially in a world so driven by outcomes.
Carrington Rotto’s Final Takeaway — “Not All Growth Is Progress”
Disruption is that one constant that is part of the exponential landscape. And yet at the end of the day, Carrington Rotto reminds us that the potential for leadership growth is not defined by scalability alone, but the willingness to persevere and learn together with clients.
In a world that values efficiency from Amazon Prime to 5G Internet speed, “we need to remind ourselves that as leaders and coaches, we need to go first,” she said with conviction. “The content and skills offered by Salim might help make the world a better place. This is exactly the impact I want to see and believe we can achieve together.”
The Exponential Organization Master Business Course gives global leaders the tools and methodology they need to nurture their visions far beyond expectations. The program will guide leaders to constantly innovate and take advantage of emerging trends and newly available technology while learning to grow 10x faster, better, and cheaper than the competition.