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Andi Gray: Stepping back so others can carry the load

Andi GrayI am trying to step back and let others take on more responsibility. I am worried that if I don’t back away I’ll burn out. As the business gets bigger I know I can’t have my hands around everything. There’s so much to do and only so many hours in a day. And I know that if I’m going to get talented people to stay here I have to let them take over. But the control freak in me has a hard time letting go. Got any thoughts?

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Building a bigger business means you can’t do it all — not even close! If you are going to add real leaders to the team you have to let them lead. Keep your eye on what you really want — a lighter load for yourself and a bigger, more profitable company. When things go wrong use the problems as opportunities for everyone to learn and grow. 

Build your teams by providing direction and guidance. Make it clear how you expect your teams to work together. What do I mean by that? 

Establish norms and habits. Weekly management meetings, daily huddles, cross-functional teams, delegation, accountability, scorecards to report on how things are going — these are the tools you want your team to use. Practice setting up and using these management tools until they become habits for your direct reports, and then for their direct reports as well. Mentor your managers, not by telling them what to do but by asking them how they plan to do it and then guiding them as they seek to implement. 

Build a team that can carry a big part of the load for you and let them do their job. It’s possible that as the business grows you’ll have to add more experts to the team. Hire outsiders to train your team members. Tell employees to expand their skill set in order to be eligible for promotions and/or upgrade positions and search for higher caliber talent to fill new roles. 

As you delegate more to your managers, make sure you are in agreement as to what your overall objectives are, but accept that there’s more than one way to get from Point A to Point Z. Let people take action but ask that they report in. Instead of telling them how to do things, ask them to tell you how they plan to act. Provide guidelines for what you want to have happen. 

Create a mental picture of where you want to take the company. 

What do you see? More employees? Greater revenue and more profit? New markets? Better customers? What about the values you want the company to stand for? 

Think about how best to see the big picture clearly. Is it from being on the valley floor, in the middle of the route you’re taking, swiveling your head so you can look forward, behind and side to side? Or is it by getting on top of the mountain, so you can look down on the valley floor and get a feel for all angles of the journey in one glance? Probably the latter. Same for work. If you’re stuck in the middle of things, it’s hard to get a full grasp of how things are going. Better to get above the fray and look down. 

As a successful business owner, at times of crisis you’re probably pretty good at jumping in and taking charge. It’s time to practice letting go. Instead of trying to diagnose everything yourself, ask your team to figure it out. If the light bulbs go off, they’ll be better decision-makers the next time. And if the light bulbs don’t go off, you have a different answer — maybe you have the wrong people, maybe it’s time to make a change. 

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: “Executive Teams,” by David Nadler, Janet Spencer, et. al. 

Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., StrategyLeaders.com, a business-consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? Wondering how Strategy Leaders can help your business thrive? Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics: 877-238-3535, AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Check out our library of business advice articles at AskAndi.com.


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