Over the last five 5 Minute Growth Tip articles, I’ve described the critical leadership team best practices to implement the structures, systems and processes to enable profitable growth.
However, you might be thinking, “I can see how it all works, but I’m really busy! I don’t have time for these things. I don’t even have time for family, friends or even myself.”
But might there be a way to make time?
How might you successfully do less of what you’re doing right now so you have the time to put these best practices in place, to enable the profitable growth you want to see, and lead the life you want to live?
How can you get out of the weeds?
The simple solutions
One could maybe end this article right here with the trite saying “delegate and elevate”. This simple tactic may do the job for you.
Start by listing out all the things you do on a week to week or month to month basis. Take a hard look at everything that could be handed off to others.
You may find there are a number of quick wins that will create time in your calendar to put some serious effort into your leadership team and the company.
Sit down with each person you’ll delegate to. Be clear on your expectations and standards. Show them how you want things done, praise their progress and good work. Redirect them if they slip backwards.
But sometimes handing things off to others doesn’t seem feasible. Your team may be really busy too. Maybe they feel tapped out.
Another option is to hire another leader to take over some of your accountabilities. For example, you may still be leading sales, marketing, operations, R&D or administration. What would it be like to have someone else doing a great job fully leading one or more of those areas for you?
Identify what you want to delegate, hire another leader with a great track record in those areas and get on with making the changes and improvements to the business to get your return on that investment.
This solution assumes your company is in a financial position to invest in making that hire. But sometimes, that might not be feasible.
The last simpler option is to find quick ways to improve profitability so you can afford to invest in another leader who will take on some of your accountabilities.
The good news is that this can often be done with some small tweaks to the business. A one percent increase in pricing to customers, a one percent decrease in cost of goods sold and a one percent decrease in overhead costs can make a big difference to the bottom line: anywhere from 10 to 80% depending on your business model and cost structure.
That can often be enough to invest in another leader.
If these kinds of profit enhancing quick wins aren’t feasible in your company, you may feel stuck, like you’re in a chicken or egg position: you need to delegate to make more significant changes to improve profitability and invest in growth, but you need more profit to invest in leaders so you can delegate.
The alternative solution
Simple delegation, hiring another leader or quickly increasing profits to do so aren’t always an option.
Sometimes the only other way is to get more done with the people we have.
This means increasing your leadership team’s efficiency so your team members have the capacity to take on some of your roles and/or lead some internal change projects on your behalf.
How do you do that? By getting the right people in the right seats, improving their execution and strengthening leadership team buy-in and accountability.
Right people in the right seats
This starts with defining the right functions on the leadership team and making adjustments to ensure you have the right person leading each function.
Over time, if not early on, other leaders will be able take on functions you’re currently leading.
The goal is to make sure each leader is highly productive leading their function(s) and driving high productivity in their respective teams.
We also want them to behave in constructive ways (aligned with your core values) that minimize drama across the leadership team and within each of their departments.
Leaders can become even more efficient by ensuring they have the right people in the right seats within their departments and that their people are also behaving constructively.
See this article for more on getting the right people in the right seats.
Having the right people in the right seats on your team provides a good foundation. But how much of their potential productivity you tap into will depend on how each leader and the team executes.
Through improved execution practices, your leadership team members will deliver better results, need less attention from you, have capacity to take on one or more of your functions and lead improvement projects you might otherwise lead.
Great execution involves:
1) each leader owning clear metrics and targets for the company and their respective functions for the year and the quarter,
2) each leader driving 2 to 3 clear priorities for change and improvement for the next year and quarter, with a 13 week sprint plan to make each one happen, and
3) a rhythm of efficient weekly, monthly and quarterly meetings to hold each other accountable to hit the numbers, move the priorities forward and set new priorities for the next quarter. Daily huddles also help speed things up by identifying obstacles to solve as soon as they come up.
A note about choosing those few critical priorities: getting the right people in the right seats needs to be a top priority for the first quarter if you want to delegate and elevate yourself, and then have your leaders do the same. You will then be rewarded every quarter with a bit more capacity so you can work more on other priorities to move the company forward.
See this article for more on efficient execution.
Leadership team buy-in and accountability
For any of this to work, the leadership team needs to be bought in and committed. The best way is to do this WITH your team, not TOO your team.
Discuss and decide on leadership team functions and assignments, set metrics and targets, and decide on company priorities WITH your leadership team. This way, they’ll be bought into these changes and driven to make them happen.
These practices will improve accountability and drive efficiency.
You can strengthen accountability further by 1) leading by example in all these activities, 2) raising your expectations of your leaders, and 3) communicating in ways that maintain their natural motivation to execute.
See this article for more on leadership team buy-in and accountability.
Making it happen
Getting the right people in the right seats, improving execution and getting leadership team buy-in and accountability will increase your team’s efficiency and enable you to delegate some of your functions and internal projects, so you can get out of the weeds.
As you gain momentum, you’ll carve out more time for yourself and your team to work on strategy, implement other structures, systems, processes, and build capacity to grow and grow profitably.
Ultimately, you’ll also start to be able to make more time for your family, rekindle old friendships and get back to some of the personal things you enjoy.
You probably won’t delegate and elevate in one fell swoop. But bite off what you can and you’ll create capacity to bite off more as you go.
For example, you might find that more than one leader needs to be replaced. Start with one in the first quarter. Replacing even just one unfit leader with an excellent one will help reduce your workload. This will give you some breathing room to make other changes. The same will hold true for the employee changes your leaders make in their departments.
That said, at the foundation of all this is having a rhythm of efficient meetings to make decisions as a team, plan, execute and hold each other accountable. And that takes a commitment of time up front.
Now you may be wondering, “I said I was too busy to implement the best practices for profitable growth, and now Jean-Guy is suggesting solving my busy-ness by implementing some of those same best practices…I said I’m too busy!”
Here’s the thing… it’s like exercising. We can say, “I can’t run because I don’t have the stamina.” But the only way to build up the stamina is to start running. Not alot to start - maybe 500 meters. But start. After a few runs, you’ll be able to run more - maybe a kilometer. In not too long, you’ll have the stamina to run 5 kilometers, and then 10.
It’s an investment that pays off. The nice thing is that it pays off as you go. You don’t have to wait until some magical point in the future. But the only way to start getting the payoff is to start.
And sometimes that takes a shift in mindset. More on that in my next 5 Minute Growth Tip article.
How can you strengthen delegation in your entrepreneurial company?
To find out how to improve delegation in your business to grow more easily, quickly and profitability, AND enjoy the ride, try our complimentary Agile Growth Checklist. This self-service questionnaire takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. You'll receive the checklist with your responses immediately. Within 24 hours, you'll receive a compiled report highlighting areas to improve. Complete sections 1, 2 and 4 to check your delegation practices. Or complete all 7 sections to find out how your company is doing in each of the 7 areas needed to produce more rapid, profitable and sustainable growth. This report is complementary and involves no obligation.