You’re halfway through the year. Soooo, how’s it goin’?
Some of our clients are hitting something of a headwind now. Is the business struggling a little to put numbers on the scoreboard? Or is it struggling to keep up because sales are hitting a record pace? In either case, you may be tempted to put on the cape and respond in the role of your super hero alter ego and save the day. If you’re tempted to make all of this happen on your own, you should think twice about that. Let’s take a look at how NOT to don the cape.
I know you’ve been told and you’ve probably even said it yourself, you should develop someone to do that for you. BUT, we all know that the first time it will be faster and probably better if you do it yourself. But let’s take a look at the obverse challenge; are you being hard enough on yourself? As a bonus, while you’re NOT donning the cape, we’ll also take a quick look at how to focus, which will serve as a force multiplier for you, your leadership and the front-line team.
Are you being hard enough on yourself?
I’m not going to belabor this question, nor am I going to pussyfoot around it. You should be taking a hard look at your business right now and asking yourself, are things going as planned? Unless you’re lucky they won’t be. Let’s face it, things never go as planned. They are either ahead or behind where they are supposed to be. And either case can cause problems for a business. Look at the Objectives and Key Results you set at the end of last year (you did do that right?). And ask yourself; “Is the business ahead or behind where it should be?” And then work out what needs to change in order to respond to the circumstances AS THEY ARE. Not as they should be or as we would like them to be. That’s it. Then act.
Step Away From the Cape. You Are Not Wonder Woman.
This cannot be the first time you have thought to yourself; “it will be faster and probably better if I do it myself.” But we all know that if you do it yourself, the next leader will never emerge. You are probably expecting me to tell you to develop the next leader by having them do it… and you would be right. In part. By far the most economic and probably the best cultural solution to building leadership in the business is to grow them organically.
Organic or promote from within leaders understand the organization and its culture and don’t need to be indoctrinated in the lore, processes and tools of the business. They live there and they’ve grown up with these things. For this and other reasons, the promoted from within leader is the strongest you can forge. By all means, give the next challenge to the next leader and then walk them through it, lending them your expertise and savvy along the way. You could call this approach “see one, do one, teach one.”
That’s all well and good unless the business is growing so fast that it can’t wait for people to develop, or if it needs expertise it doesn’t naturally develop or if the culture itself needs to be evolved by supplementing with outside fresh air. Sometimes businesses need to grow up, and adding high caliber talent from the outside is an excellent way to move this along. If now is one of those times, be sure to treat the outsider like you would an insider. Don’t expect them to come in with all the answers. Give them the challenge assignment, just like you would the growing insider and then work along side them to teach them the key cultural cues, processes and tools that the insider would know. The constant here is an investment of your time, shoulder-to-shoulder with this individual as you impart the cultural lessons that are sometimes very difficult to pick up when you’re new to an organization.
Isn’t this a rare luxury today? It’s something you wish you could bottle and pass out to the staff. As I began writing this article, I turned on Focus Assist on my PC, expanded my writing app to full screen and collapsed the menu ribbon in order to eliminate everything from my field of view except the words I am writing. I LOVE this moment. It’s just me and you my reader.
If you’re gearing up to handle the business emergency… too much business, not enough business etc., it would be good to have extra time, energy and power for this effort, wouldn’t it?
Focus provides that power. It’s a force multiplier. When you sit down with your developing leader, they will feel it if you are completely present with them, and they will get more out of it. As I write this, I just finished Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and I loved it. I highly recommend you read it. And I recommend you carry the thought much further than just social media and your electronic distractions. Practice mindfulness and allocate your life, (after all isn’t that what time is, our life?) to important priorities. Priorities to which you won’t regret allocating your life.
Take a moment and do the following:
Assess progress against the strategic plan.
Consider carefully the choice of inside vs. outside talent.
Seek to develop that talent as you step up to whatever challenge(s) you find.
Focus yourself on the critical few things you need to do.