Does size really matter? Should you go big or go home, or does quality win out over quantity? The fascination business leaders have with size has always both intrigued yet perplexed me. Is empire building and the pursuit of category dominance a healthy thing, or the corporate equivalent of the road to Perdition? I’ll frame the debate – you decide.

It should be obvious to all; an enterprise not growing is declining. There is great wisdom in understanding businesses are not maintained – they either grow or fall into decline. Growth prevents irrelevance and obsolescence, growth affords opportunity, growth attracts and retains talent, and growth is the most certain path to sustainability.

There’s a caveat to the aforementioned statements – they assume healthy growth. The flip side to the preceding paragraph is growth for the sake of growth, growth by default and not by design, growth for the wrong reasons or at the wrong times, and growth in the wrong areas can create corporate ruin.

Let me be clear; size in and of itself is not intrinsically a good thing. Size must be underpinned and augmented with many other characteristics, disciplines, and attributes in order to be a meaningful measure. Size must add value – not dilute it. Size should never outpace capability, and size should not be a substitute for quality.

I’m not easily impressed by revenue – I’ve witnessed far too many companies have impressive top lines while having no bottom line whatsoever. It doesn’t matter to me that your product/service has the most competitive price, I’m not interested in how many times you turn your inventory,  that you’re expanding your operations or adding headcount, and nor will I stand in awe of your great platform or your superior technology. None of these things matter if your company is not profitable, if your company is profitable but you have no life, or if you have a toxic corporate culture.

The myth of bigger is better makes for a nice sound bite but is rarely the case. I’ve always believed bigger isn’t better – better is better. It has been my experience when girth alone serves as a badge of honor, it’s often brandished as a justification for shortfalls in other areas. Here’s something worth pondering – You cannot have a growing company guided by stagnant leaders. Put another way, it’s impossible to sustain a growing enterprise, when leadership fails to develop and grow.

The bottom line is this – it’s not whether or not to grow, but how to grow. Growth doesn’t demand the sacrifice of values, quality, or culture – it should enhance all three. Growth should be led by design, purpose, intent, and with great focus. It should never be allowed to spin out of control or to become the sole, or even the top priority.

Growth shouldn’t be an expression or measure of ego but should be a gauge of the health of your leadership, your brand, and your culture.  Ultimately, it’s not really the growth that matters, but the discoveries made along the path to growth, and the outcomes achieved as the result of growth that produce the most value.