A friend of mine has a small but well established company with about 30 employees, but she hasn't been able to grow her company over the last 5 years. I've usually ascribed the problem to her being a micro-manager, but I know the problem is really more complex than that. This article for a special report in the Wall Street Journal brings up a bunch of limiting attitudes which can get in the way of growth. The authors identified the "mind for growing business" as the 'pragmatic idealist'--combining characteristics which are usually seen as mutually exclusive.
What strikes me is that I do have this mindset. I do trust people, want to learn from them, and keep scanning the environment for opportunities. I think my problem is too many small bets....
The Wall Street Journal: In Search of Growth Leaders, 2008-Jul-7, by Sean D. Carr, Jeanne M. Liedtka, Robert Rosen and Robert E. Wiltbank (subscription required)
In assembling teams, growth leaders learned to combine two seemingly opposing forces: holding people ruthlessly accountable for results, and engaging their passion to build something great together. Their overall approach was to be tough but fair. But they were adamant about acquiring staff with only the needed skill sets. Team effectiveness often depended on moving people quickly into positions that optimized their strengths, and removing people who did not fit or who lacked the necessary capabilities. Groups pursuing new ventures were seen as no place for rookies. As one leader commented, growth initiatives should be about testing markets, not people. Yet despite this hard-nosed attitude, employees who worked for such managers invariably described them in terms such as "caring," "motivating" and "inspiring." Managers in our study were also pragmatic in dealing with corporate bureaucracy: They didn't fight the organization; they saved their energy to fight in the marketplace.