Business women discussing in a meeting

In any company, large or small, the leaders set the standard for the way the company should be run and the way decisions should be made. And the company prospers. At least that’s the theory. In practice, not so much. In an attempt to get readers’ attention we’ve seen these arguments presented as a reason to enroll for a seminar, sign up for a workshop, buy my book, etc.

Here’s my view, and it’s free – nothing to buy, your only cost is the next 5 minutes of your time.

Relax at the helm and let your team lead.” This only works if your team knows how to lead, either because they learned it before you hired them or you effectively taught them how you want them to lead and then stepped aside and let them do it. In my experience this actually happens less than half the time, likely because

  • they didn’t really learn before you hired them, so couldn’t be successful on Day 1, or
  • You hired people for the amount of money you wanted to spend, and it wasn’t enough to get the right people to begin with, or
  • you told them how you wanted it done but didn’t trust that they’d do it your way, so you reserved most of the decisions to yourself anyway.

Yes, Virginia, the resulting management style is called micromanagement.

And then there’s this one: “They keep screwing up, not getting it right, not doing it the way I wanted it done.” This comes from the leader who has an internal sense of what they want to happen but has failed to communicate effectively to the team, who keep disappointing, thus validating the leader’s inborne assumption that ‘it won’t get done right unless I do it myself.’ The key to this one is ensuring they don’t understand the message so the leader can reassure themselves that their people don’t support them or appreciate them or understand them. We find some level of this leadership behavior in almost a quarter of the companies we work with. And while most of our work is focused on the financial side of the business, money doesn’t get things done. People do. Or they don’t.

Oh, of course, there are those leaders who are simply happier making all the decisions themselves, and perfectly happy with the resulting performance of their team. They like being essential to every part of their company and are satisfied that it will always be only as large as they can personally manage, which is to say small, or lifestyle, businesses.

And finally there’s the longer, more time consuming, more labor-intensive way – hiring the right people for the right reasons, grooming them in the culture of the company, compensating them according to agreed goals and objectives, and then getting the h— out of their way unless they need your advice. You may soon feel like they don’t need you anymore, because everything is running so smoothly you have to spend your time looking for opportunities to grow, expand productivity, plan for tomorrow’s next steps, maybe even plan your successful exit. Bummer.

We are Your CFO for Rent.

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