The 9 Dangers of Growth and how to Navigate Through Them

Zechariah Newman —  January 13, 2016 — Leave a comment

This is a guest post by Ralph Mayhew he blogs at, to help leaders become better at their craft. He has just written a book called The Anonymous Leader: An unambitious pursuit of influence, which offers a fresh understanding of leadership and calls the reader to greater influence by aligning theirs to God’s – You can also hang out with him on Facebook at

If leadership is healthy, the tasks leaders apply themselves to will result in growth. Growth however is difficult. My favorite local cafe just expanded to two shops and in the space of a month the coffee was poor, food expensive, staff despondent and care to detail gone. It’s no longer my favorite cafe.  There is a maze that awaits every successful leader. It’s a maze that grows as an organisation, church, business or ministry grows. Below is a map to navigate the maze with, as we explore the 8 dangers associated with growth and how to navigate them for the sake of your people.

The unknown

photo by: KCNewman phototgraphy

1. Irregularity – people come less often as they feel their presence isn’t essential.

When people first buy into something they buy into what they see, not what it will feel like once it’s grown. Growth can affect people into coming less regularly because they are subconsciously convinced they won’t be missed.

Navigation: Ensure each person knows they are important to you.

2. Disconnection – people feel disconnected from each other.

Growth results in more people showing up and for many people, the increase in more people dislodges the community they once experienced. This causes them to feel disconnected.

Navigation: Create opportunities for people to connect and coach them into it.

3. Uncommitted – people think everyone else will do it.

As more people arrive and buy in the vision more people share the workload. The downside of this is that those who were previously involved feel as though their contribution is no longer as important, leading them to lapse in commitment.

Navigation: Develop valuable roles for everyone and communicate the value of each role to the people doing them.

4. Financial Increase – people are charged more money to sustain the growth.

In growth there is always a lag between finance to accommodate the growth and the growth being seen. This dynamic, frequently results in people being charged more or pressured to give more in order to sustain the in-between season. People don’t like this as unfortunately the new cost of things is most often not temporary.

Navigation: Monitor how much you ask from people and ensure you deliver more than that in your serving of them.

5. Anonymity – people feel like they won’t be missed, so they disengage.

Growth means it’s easier to go unnoticed. Some people love this, while others really struggle feeling like they are now ignored or taken for granted.

Navigation: Get to know people’s names and stories as you grow and use that knowledge to value people.

6. Dilution (of product) – People receive a deteriorating quality of product as demand increases.

As growth occurs the product, which appropriately served the previous number of customers, can become unsatisfactory, due to the increase in volume. This in turn renders a previously excellent product inefficient.

Navigation: Everything you need to do needs to be scalable, if it isn’t develop it into something that is.

7. Culture Fades – people will naturally drift from the original culture as more people come along.

As new people enter into a culture the culture bends and adapts in order to embrace those new to it. This can result in the previous appreciated culture changing and slipping from a culture previously enjoyed and attractive to people.

Navigation: Be clear, concise and strong on the culture you want, constantly demand if from people.

8. Loss – people grieve for how it used to be as things change.

As growth takes place people will grieve the loss of what they once had. They will miss how things used to be and the changes that have needed to take place.

Navigation: Care for people with patience and compassion as they adapt to the change they are experiencing.

9. Broken Trust – People struggle to trust in something when it changes rapidly.

People buy into an idea, organisation, church or group of people because they were able to develop trust. When growth takes place, trust can be shaken for people, becoming a barrier to people’s engagement in the new.

Navigation: Help people realize what they have trusted in and what has not changed: your leadership.


Growth is healthy, but people’s response to growth may not be. You need to guard against this by helping them adapt and enjoy the benefits of healthy growth.

What other dangers do you see concerning the growth of something?

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