At Evolution Capital Partners, our approach is rooted in purposeful, empowered and transparent leadership. In fact, strong leadership is a core tenet behind everything we do as an organization—and it is put into practice each and every day by all members of the Evolution team, regardless of title or tenure.
It is only when “everyone is a leader” that a job can be performed to an optimal level and with the greatest results, which is why this core value resonates so strongly with me. Great leadership means that each member of your team is empowered to take initiative to achieve the best possible result, no matter what the project entails.
What Does “Everyone is a Leader” Mean?
In any small-business environment, it is not uncommon to see a flat organizational structure where each team member is required to wear multiple hats. There is usually a lot going on at any given time that requires a certain level of grit and flexibility—from taking on new and challenging tasks, to accommodating conflicting priorities and fast turnarounds. At Evolution, our team truly functions as a well-oiled machine where everyone is expected to take ownership of various projects and pitch in wherever needed in order to get the job done well.
Because of this dynamic environment, one must be ready for inevitable changes. For example, the deadlines for certain initiatives may need to be moved up based on shifting priorities within the organization. Therefore, you must be able to shift efforts to where they’re most urgently needed and support other team members when they need it. This requires all employees within a business to take initiative—a critical aspect of effective leadership.
There are many ways in which this can be achieved within a business. In some cases, you may find that you are in the right position and equipped with the best skillset to promptly address the issue at hand. At other times, you may need to think through a problem and figure out how to overcome it by seeking out the necessary knowledge and resources. Or, you may even serve as a point person who can pull assets together to help move the project forward.
How We Demonstrate This Core Value
On a fundamental level, taking leadership within your business is about stepping up to solve problems, get the job done, and bring your team and project to the best possible outcome. It requires identifying a space in need of initiative, making proactive recommendations to address those issues, and being a creative problem-solver in everything you do.
As an example of this core value in action at Evolution, in 2021, we closed an investment in one of our growth companies through a series of transactions over several months. We quickly realized the need for a senior accounting professional to help run the business until we could find a replacement—and someone from our team stepped up to take on this role.
She ended up being in this accounting role for longer than intended and faced some big challenges along the way. But she was exactly the right person for the job—and she knew it—so she stepped in to fill the gap. Over her time on this assignment, she made sure everything was done exactly as it needed to be, and when she was finished, she left the organization in a much better place. All of us at Evolution greatly appreciated her doing this.
Why is it Important to Develop Core Values?
Core values have become increasingly instrumental in how I lead as a partner in my own business and in how I evaluate other businesses—especially when those core values are considered fundamental elements of the operation. Shared values can bring together people of different backgrounds to produce a unique culture and great results. Our core value “Everyone is a Leader” is particularly important given that initiative is paramount to the success of any small business.
It’s important that our core values truly reflect who we are as a team and organization. In this way, they highlight the attributes that are essential to the work we do every day at Evolution: investing in our founders, helping them grow and taking their businesses to the next level. With that in mind, we were able to build values that are at the center of what we do and who we are.
What are My Tips for Creating Core Values?
First and foremost, it’s crucial to “operationalize” your set of core values. When you do this, as Evolution has, those core values become a valuable tool. They can then be used to guide all decision-making, helping to show what’s best for the business and for the people in it.
Core values shouldn’t just be words that are hung up on a wall and forgotten. It’s important to incorporate them into your key messaging to employees, teams, customers and suppliers. Be sure to demonstrate that they’re important to you, and that being in sync with the organization includes embracing and internalizing those core values. Doing so should be part of joining as a new employee or doing business with your organization. When this is accomplished, each of the core values—such as “Everyone is a Leader”—will serve as a powerful tool for your business.