427 | The Inflection Points of Growth as a Leader with Gary Goerke

We all have inflection points in our businesses and the journey of leadership. The question is how will you meet those opportunities for growth. The inflection points of growth as a leader sometimes require you to bite your tongue. This is important if you want to get the highest value from your employees. Today, I share with you insights from Gary Georke, CEO of Clarity Voice. He talks about his inflections points in the full interview.

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Target Audience: He is the President and CEO at Clarity Voice. He’s also a recognized entrepreneur, Gary combines his passion for technology and his commitment to free enterprise by serving the franchising and small business community. 


Gary Goerke: The Transcript

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

This is Leaders in the Trenches and your host today is Gene Hammett.

Gene Hammett: Hi, this is Gene Hammett. I’m the host of leaders in the trenches. My question for you today is this. What do you do when you’re faced with inflection points in the growth of your company? Well, inflection points are those serious moments of leverage and pressure that you start to feel inside your business. And sometimes you don’t feel them to after you’ve already gone through them and he can look back. But we have a special guest today who’s been through many inflection points in the growth of his company. Clarity Voice is around 40 employees. Gary Goerke is the CEO there and founder. And he talked about specifically when he got about 15, 20 employees. What do you have to change as a leader, some of the structure that he needed to put in place to be able to continue the growth? Now, we talked a little bit afterward. He’s hired six people in the last quarter. He’s projecting even more growth and he knew he had to get a handle of that growth and today’s world or back then so that he could grow today. So today we have this interview with you on leaders in the trenches with Gary talking about the inflection points of growth.

Gene Hammett: Hi Gary. How are you?

Gary Goerke: Gene, I’m doing great, thank you. And I’m honored to be on leaders in the trenches today.

Gene Hammett: Well, we’re honored to have you. I’ve already let our audience know a little bit about you, but I’d love to know in your own voice about you and who you serve.

Gary Goerke: Sure. So I’m the founder and CEO of Clarity Voice clarity, voice as a voice over the Internet, phone service, Unified Communications Company and we niche and servicing franchise businesses and auto dealerships, primarily companies that are privately held where the influencer or decision maker, about technology as a stake in the P&L. Like to truly, help our clients succeed. And, uh, we found with privately held businesses were able to do so.

Gene Hammett: Well. Gary, we talked about having you on the show. It was really an interesting story of the growth of your company. You’ve gotten up to about 40 employees right now. Do you remember any specific one or two inflection points around the growth that you had to work through as a leader?

Gary Goerke: Sure. Probably the most significant one was between 15 and 20 employees scene and I didn’t realize it at the time. But that’s where the number of relationships, mmm. And each, each relationship has its own dynamics. So it’s me with each of my team members and then the team with each other. But the number of dynamics became too great for me to manage and know everything that was going on and all the nuance. And it became a problem when I still wanted to run the company, um, as if everybody was what was my friend and that I knew what was going on in our personal lives and were able to make decisions on the fly particular for, for that person. For example, if I knew that somebody was having some difficulties in a relationship, I might say, well, why don’t you take a couple of days off?

Gary Goerke: Or, maybe I’d suggest, you know, take the weekend and go up into northern Michigan and just, just relax. Like you might do a with a close friend or a family member or even on a small company, you can do that because everybody knows, we’re your heart and your head’s at and, uh, there’s less chance of miss interpretation by other people in the company and run around 15, 20 is the inflection point in a, and I didn’t realize this until, uh, I grew a little larger. I brought in an operations person at an executive level to help me grow the company. And she started giving me feedback about what team members were saying. And I actually didn’t believe her at first. I thought that she was trying to ruin my relationship with the team and sabotage it because she would point out that the way I thought something I said, so somebody was being interpreted was not at all the way it was being interpreted. And it almost created too much drama and so much chaos in the company that the dysfunctional as a company would have altered the company’s growth. Luckily I finally saw that this was an inflection point and change was needed and I needed to change the way that I approached the team and the way that I allowed my leadership to manage the company and approached the team.

Gene Hammett: Do you remember any specific changes that you made as a leader at a personal level?

Gary Goerke: Oh, gosh. The word that comes to mind, a genius is a structure. And I’m going to say clarity. Uh, no pun intended, but prior to that inflection point, there wasn’t clarity. There wasn’t a structure and in responsibilities in great reporting and communication, it was much more ad hoc. But like you can do in a, in a very small organization, uh, you know, managed from the hip, so to speak. What we did around that point is taking recommendations from the consultant. I’m going to give a plug to my friend Gino Wickman who wrote the book traction and founded the entrepreneurial operating system, EOS. And we implemented an eos system in what, where we are the most impacted immediately was in defining roles and responsibilities instead of position. But we defined roles and had each person accountable for their role in the company. And then we started with our meetings having, I’d highly structured meetings so that they were productive and not really not politicking. And in socializing.

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Gene Hammett: Do you get much push back from the team when you started making those changes?

Gary Goerke: I got buy-in from the team to do it. It’s important to tell people, especially saw your manager management on I change prior to just doing a, I want to say prior, instead of doing a cram down and saying, this is how, how we’re doing things from now on, I brought everybody they really had a sales pitch done about the idea of having a more structured and having responsibility we ever able to solve you know, what the benefits would be and I framed it in a way that I wanted the feedback and opinion of everybody in the room because it was such an important move. And we had just about everybody buy in and those who didn’t they self-selected their way out of the company, which was better for all of us actually.

Gene Hammett: Right. You know a lot of this sounds like some of the work I do is around going beyond responsibility to get people to take real ownership of the work that they’re doing. Projects or client responsibility. Have you found that people are taking more ownership of their work day in and day out after these changes?

Gary Goerke: Oh, without a doubt. In general, I believe that all of us as human beings in our vocations, uh, w w we want to make a contribution. And in addition to making a contribution, we want clarity about the expectations about what we have responsibility and control over. And we want to know what we don’t have to be concerned about. So it’s because we now have that clarity of what everybody is responsible for and what they get to a champion and succeed at there’s ownership in, in those areas and you get it, I’ll use the word synergy if it’s not used as much anymore, but those ideas that now everybody is working synergistically and the group produces farm far more, they produce some multiple of what they once did as over individuals, NBN additive.

Gene Hammett: Is there anything that you had to go through at a personal level to be a better leader to all of this?

Gary Goerke: I’m still going through. Right.

Gene Hammett: Well thank you for being honest because that’s, I feel the same way after 25 years. But is there anything specific that stands out that you had to let go of to be the kind of leader that has a company of 40 employees are growing and getting the work done?

Gary Goerke: Yeah the larger the company. Yet if I wanted to continue to grow, I have to be less the left of the doer and more of the visionary. And that sounds, that sounds great until you put it in practice. And when you put it in practice, what it means is sometimes I have to bite my time and instead of throwing out what my idea is on how to solve the problem or gets our results, I have to allow, that’s my like team member to figure it out. And the only interject if I’m really concerned that they may be going off in a direction that can be destructive or maybe they don’t understand the consequences, that’s, it’s difficult to buy my time because I am an opinion about everything. And like most entrepreneur business leaders, especially small businesses growing we have always had to wear many hats and many times we wear every hat. so we have an opinion about everything and the only way that we were able to survive in the early days, and grow at all was to, to be that rugged individualism, do it, all that same login individualist, the tendency you that that got us started and paraded momentum and growth there comes a point where you have to back off and allow others to, uh, really start their wings and start contributing and being a key contributor on that stream is right.

Gary Goerke: I was just going to say that the benefit is. Well, I keep a close watch on where the company’s going. Well, I don’t want to be blindsided by some decision that was made and I won’t be. Yeah. You start to de-stress. We’ll start to enjoy having some, some time back and being able to do more what you want to do, what I want to do instead of what I have to do.

Gene Hammett: When you think about the moments where you had to learn to bite your tongue more, was there anything specifically going on in the company that you needed to evolve as a leader through that?

Gary Goerke: Yeah. okay. I think I had to take a hard look at where growth was plateauing. And I had heard from other speakers the concept of, uh, uh, the ceiling of complexity, which is where I had grown the costume company at a rave into a point that I could with my current skill set. So there came a point where I had to decide what was more important. May mean maintaining more and having it’s a big ego in a smaller checkbook or having a bigger checkbook and the lesser ego and it, and we laugh about it and everybody, I’m sure listening to the podcast you’re watching this is saying, well, of course, I would rather have the big check. But really, because when it comes to a decision point, I know for myself, you know, egos a negative word. But another way to put it is that feeling of satisfaction of being in control and you know it’s not good or bad, it’s just a choice. I decided that I was going to take the risk and give up more control and allow by the team to grow the business.

Gene Hammett: Gary before we wrap this up. I want to give you a chance to take us to where you are today. Describe the kind of team you have and the kind of work that you’re most proud of so that we understand more about what you do.

Gary Goerke: Sure. So what I’m, what I’m still a fucking center of is making sure that our culture is followed in that the vision of what can be is painted my team and as I’ve grown the team both from a management and specialists in the different areas of our company. It is, I’ve continued to just paint the picture of what the future looks like and what we’re going to be known for. Maybe I’ll use the term, the legacy that, what are people going to talk about? What are customers going to talk about if we’re gone? And that certainly goes beyond a financial success or achievement or in really goes to what, what impact, what contribution do we make our customers? And in my job is to continuously remind our current team and our new members, each them what that is, who we are, what our character is, and what our values, our mission is.

Gene Hammett: Well, I appreciate you sharing that with us, Gary. You talking about the inflection points and, and learning to bite your tongue around, uh, being the kind of leader, letting your employees and power them to move forward and make their own decisions. That’s a really parallels, a lot of the stories we have here. So I think it’s a perfect interview today. So thanks for being here at leaders in the trenches. Is there any way that our audience can get in touch with you and check out the company? Where would you send them to?

Gary Goerke: Well, our website is www.clarityvoice.com and of course I’m easiest to be contacted via LinkedIn. My last name is G-O-E-R-K-E. First Name Gary, and the CEO of Clarity Voice. And I’d love to hear from you.

Gene Hammett: Well, thanks for being here.

Gary Goerke: Thank you, Gene.

Gene Hammett: Oh, that’s a great interview. I love you hearing some of the struggles that a leader and a founder has gone through because we’ve all been through it. We’ve all been through these moments where we doubt ourselves and we’re not sure exactly what we do, or we realize that we’ve been doing it the wrong way. Gary was vulnerable enough and authentic to share some of the realness of what’s going on behind leadership, to talk about getting buy-in from his employees and about biting his tongue and about the inflection points that it takes to grow as a leader. So as always, I really appreciate you being here, being a part of the tribe of leaders in the trenches. If you have any questions, make sure you reach out. Let me know. As always, live with courage and I’ll see you next time.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

In this episode we’ll cover:

  • Inflection Points in the Growth of a Company
  • Points around the Growth of a Company
  • Team Approached
  • Leader at a Personal Level
  • Going Beyond Responsibility
  • Succeed in Ownership



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