July 8, 2021

G2 is a Conscious Unicorn

What does it look like when a company makes Conscious Leadership a cornerstone of its operating system?

Twenty months ago, in October 2019, I facilitated a senior leadership team offsite with G2, a company for whom I’d served as the “company conscious leadership coach” for just over a year.

You know those incredibly fun offsites, packed with play, celebration, and creative wonder? This wasn’t one of those offsites. This was the other kind. The kind where a senior team looks at the numbers, the staff, and other critical indicators and realizes it’s time to retrench. Nothing was horrible, but nothing was fantastic. There was work to do in every area of the business, and it was time to pull the reins back to give the company plenty of time to return to the flourishing it had done in its first few years.

This was an offsite marked by sadness, some fear, and, in its best moments, 100% Responsibility taken by every member of the senior team, especially my friend, teacher, and valued interlocutor, CEO Godard Abel.

Although there was not much warm and fuzzy about these few days, it represents for me the most meaningful, clear, and responsible shift I’ve ever seen a senior team make. Staff reductions were orchestrated, with a great deal of regret. More serious expense policies took effect. And the company embarked on a phase of “smart growth” with plenty of cushion in the bank and a commitment to sorting out what needed to be sorted to return to the phase of steep growth.

I want to pause here. This moment is rare. Most companies in this situation don’t pause as quickly as this company did. They don’t pause on their own without external pressure. But here, no board or investor demanded a shift. The leadership team made an affirmative decision to get better and smarter, to clean up waste, to radically improve its product, and to make a suite of products so magnetic that its customers couldn’t get enough.

One of the most significant differentiators this CEO and this team had on their side? The water they swam in was not just content and industry expertise; they also leveraged conscious leadership as a cornerstone of their company operating system. That meant that in this moment actions were quicker. The conversations were authentic, leaving nothing to gossip about. Blame was essentially non-existent. Curiosity opened doorways to creativity.

In the months after that session, G2 attracted extraordinary new heads of product, revenue, operations, and marketing. The senior leadership team started to feel the way I feel when I get the rare chance to play tennis with a superb player; your shots are better because of the quality of the shot coming at you. You are challenged; you step up. It’s kinetic. The game takes on an unstoppable pace. That’s this team. Unstoppably excellent.

When COVID happened five months after that offsite, G2 was ready for the early concussions in the sector. They’d made changes early enough that they were protected at this uncertain time so that in the last six months, with a stellar team at the helm, they’ve accelerated into the reopening. Every KPI is up and to the right. G2 is now, without rival, the place you go to buy software and the place great software companies go to reach their prospective users.

Two weeks ago G2 announced a $157 million investment at a $1.1 billion valuation. When we see these announcements, we usually imagine it’s been a steady stream of good news since company launch. That’s almost never the case, and it wasn’t the case here.

Great companies are built over time. They weather challenges of their own creation and from external forces. The ones that make it through the rarely discussed blips often have a system of values and behaviors that allow them to face difficulty directly. Here are G2’s PEAK values.

I am proud to be associated with G2. And I am exhilarated to watch the work that has materially improved my life and my effectiveness do the same for the phenomenal team at this Conscious Unicorn.

Sue Heilbronner

Sue Heilbronner is an executive coach, Conscious Leadership facilitator, and catalyst for change.

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