A long time boss and mentor of mine used to always tell me “The measure of how good a leader you are is how well your department, business, division runs once you are gone.” He knew me well. This was a battle cry. I was always looking to move up or over in the company and I wasn’t going to leave a string of embarrassing rag tag departments behind me. In the heat of things I always saw this manipulation as a personal challenge.
And although part of consistently throwing this statement my way, was because he knew how to push my buttons, in actuality it was true. By creating teams and businesses that could run without me, it freed me up to take advantage of other opportunities.
But, most importantly, I believe it was the single most effective strategy for successful business growth and for enhancing my leadership skills.
In order for my projects and teams to succeed, and run without me I had to:
hire talented, technically competent people
create a diverse team that complimented each other to ensure no major holes
delegate like crazy so that everything could be done without me if necessary
develop an open, learning, and innovative environment where people were not afraid to let you know if they had an issues or messed up
And more importantly…
- create systems of checks and balances to make sure discrepancies were found without one boss micromanaging
- make sure that we had policies and procedures whereby the team could make most decisions independently because they knew how things were supposed to work
These leadership activities strengthened the team and made them more independent.
As a small business owner creating a business that will beat the odds and survive and grow beyond it’s first 5 years, you must create a business that can run without you.
How would your business do if you stepped away for one day? Could you step away for a week? Can it run without you? Why not?
Make a list of the things that would fall apart first. What can you do over the next 6 months to turn this around and empower these parts of your business to be autonomous?
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