If your organization’s leadership jumped off a cliff, would the rest of the company do it too? (The answer is yes.) A business is only as strong as its leadership—fairly cliché but nevertheless true. When businesses are small, leadership (or the lonely entrepreneur) is connected to the pulse of the marketplace, customers, and employees. But as an organization scales and hires more staff and implements more processes, leadership moves from the frontlines of everything to the back of the room. From here, they have a 500 – 30,000 foot view of the organization’s direction and mechanisms of driving the business. Herein lies the challenge.
Anyone who has built a company from the ground up knows how hard it is to let their former duties and activities go. After all, you built this thing with your bare hands. Trusting someone else to nurture what you created is hard. But it is critical that leadership understands the importance of delegation. As a company grows, the stratification from 10 to 50 employees is significant. Middle managers take the day-to-day reigns and top leaders distance themselves to focus on the big picture. “The strengths of the top leader become the weaknesses of the organization,” (Scaling Up, 2008) meaning, if the founder of the organization is a sales and marketing whiz it’s very likely that everyone will rely on them (in perpetuity) to achieve the company’s targets. But this isn’t scaling up – it’s actually stalling. And eventually, that founder will be stretched so thin that the company’s evolution might go in reverse.
So what’s the best way to delegate? First – determine exactly what job the individual or team needs to get done. Be sure to define your expectations and communicate them (you’d be surprised how many leaders leave that part out). Next, create a system in which the job can be measured, for progress and success (yes, this is the data part – KPIs, etc.). Don’t forget that feedback is critical, especially if delegating hasn’t been your thing before. Your team will need to know they’re meeting those aforementioned expectations. And, be sure to recognize your staff for a job well done. Not only does this inspire the individual to want to keep knocking projects out of the park for you, but it’ll give the rest of your team an idea of what to expect in the future.
It’s important to mention here that consistency in your messaging is key. When you or your leadership team is changing approaches in the “how we do what we do” category, be sure you’re keeping sight of your most important priorities. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Keep your core values and company purpose visible. If major goals are on the horizon, make sure you’re communicating them frequently until they’re achieved. Last, if you have a 1, 3, and 5-year plan laid out, it’s a real good idea to ensure your team knows what they are and how they fit into the mix to help the company reach them.
Want to know more about sustainably growing your business without stalling in reverse? Drop us an email. We’d love to chat (it’s pretty much our favorite thing to talk about).