Does growth happen by chance or through planning? Or is it a mix of the two?  When I think about ‘growth’, my immediate thought goes to my children, because I’m watching them grow and develop as human beings and I find that so fascinating. From my perspective, all I want in life is for them to grow up into fine adults so that when they walk out of a room, anyone who has met them will say they are fantastic people. And I wonder, how big is the part I play in their growth? And that’s representative of a bigger debate about natural growth versus ‘concerted cultivation’.

To outline what concerted cultivation is, as you’d imagine, it’s an American technique that focuses on creating structure, scheduling activities and reasoning with your kids to help develop their ability to interact in social situations, enabling them to be socially capable. For instance, my eldest son was interviewing for a rugby scholarship at Birmingham University.  I had a fair idea what course the interview would take and what they were going to ask him. I just couldn’t let him walk in there blindly and hope for the best, so I created the opportunity of talking to him extensively about the interview on our journey there. I coached him on what he could expect and started him thinking about his answers. Long story short, my son was offered the scholarship.  He was amazed I had guessed what they would ask him and he was pleased he was prepared and knew precisely what to say.

I am a firm believer that concerted cultivation is key in helping not just your kids to grow, but also the people in your business.  There’s a Julia Gillard quote that says ‘Our future growth relies on competitiveness and innovation, skills and productivity, and these in turn rely on the education of our people.’ And if you look up ‘how to accelerate growth’ in the workplace, all the experts say, that the key around growth in business is always about having the right people in place.

Just as in parenting, where a child needs the right guidance from parents, teachers and mentors to help them achieve their full potential, the same applies to your staff.  As managers of people, we hold the responsibility of providing all aspects of the support they need to help them to grow.  Ensuring we have the right structures, managers and leaders in place to cultivate each individual will in turn ensure the growth of the entire business.