While working on some new content for my SME leadership development program, over the weekend it occurred to me that every single one of my current clients has a common challenge. I just hadn’t seen it quite as clearly as I do now. Every one of you is trying to hand the baton of running the business, or elements of the business, to others.
For some of you it is about a complete transition of power, like a Jedi knight training their Padowan. For others it is passing on powers in the form of additional responsibility to your managers, or members of your teams
The overall goal in any of this work is to focus on other things in the company, or to back away and spend time doing other things, outside the business. Either way its damn hard work to do it well and to get the behavioural shifts you are looking for. There are two main reasons for this
Owner Proximity – In small businesses the owner is close to the coal face and, in the nicest way possible, can be a bit of a psychopath. The business is your baby and you’ve worked so hard to get it where it is. No one handle those situations as well as you and others will make bad situations worse. Or at least thats what our internal psychopath tells us. Another person will never be you and the reality of effective leadership is that it can only come from a place of grounded authenticity. Its hard to allow someone to do things ‘their way’ when they are holding your baby.
Busy-ness – Everyone, including you, is busy. The hamster wheel never stops turning in small businesses and there are alway more things to be done than there is time for. This leaves little time for the important conversations that enable someone to develop the self awareness, decision making skills, key relationships and commercial acuity, they need in order to take on more responsibility.
The result is that most people given more responsibility or asked to step up, start to avoid taking decisions for fear of ‘getting it wrong’ or end up deferring difficult tasks requiring high quality leadership skill.
Small businesses are challenging environments in which to lead. If you are the owner, your passion for the company you have built can drive you, but your managers need
- resilience to cope with the constantly moving field of play that small business operate in
- strong grounding to be able to confidently deal with opportunities and challenges (including standing up to the owner when necessary)
- commercial acuity so that they can make decisions that appropriately balance customers needs, margins and quality
- supreme connection skills to build relationships with their team, their peers, their boss, customers and suppliers
I’ve now taken twenty five managers and directors , ranging from management newbies to experienced directors through my SME leadership program. The biggest value for participants has not been the skills and tactics they learned but rather the shift that was created in their own self perception. This has enabled them to show up more effectively in their roles, which in turn has allowed them to build strong relationships, make well rounded decisions and get epic amounts of stuff done.
The youngest person (21) ever to complete this program had this to say
Dave is one of a kind, a brilliant mentor and very knowledgeable, the key to the effectiveness of this programme is that everything is done at a personal level, and not just to satisfy the group; this really makes it engaging! The programme really helped bring me out of my shell and boost my confidence as a manager, problem solving and dealing with my team. The course helped me think outside of the box, and to see things how they really are, rather than how I perceive them.
Leadership is not about tips and tactics. Its about showing up at your 100% authentic best, being highly aware of everything happening around you and creating direction in the face of uncertainty. To develop that level of ability requires that you shift states and confront who you truly are. Helping people to do that is my Jedi skill.
You see I want your managers to be as good as, if not better than you. One thing I became very clear on when I was managing large teams in the corporate world was this….. the smarter my team were the better I looked. So, if you are the smartest person in your business then you are heading for problems. It is time to start investing in developing people that will push you, challenge you and drive your company forward.
If you’d like find out if this program is right for the key members of your team you can set up an online conversation with me here.