surprising number of well-established business owners don’t know what to do when they get to work. This may seem odd, but it’s becoming all too common. To set a good example they arrive early, work long hours and then lock up at the end of a long day. Learning a new routine is a problem for more hands-on leaders as what they used to do is no longer all that important or time consuming. For example, you don’t need to go to the bank for deposits, you don’t get as much mail to open and most reports are generated in seconds.
I get calls from our members in executive positions who find themselves wandering about their daily routine looking to tell someone what to do, rather than asking their employees what they need from management to do their jobs better. They feel their job is to boss others – that’s the style they learned from their former boss. The problem is that the technology that was once so familiar to the CEO has now become so foreign to them. I advise them not to boss people around when they have limited information, or are in no position to add real value.
These CEO’s used to be either the technical talent or the rainmaker, but now they need to get out there and find new talent; network within the industry, develop strategies, set goals and manage them. They need to keep their thumb on the pulse of the industry and be in constant contact with the best companies to share ideas with. The role of the CEO can be so vital when operating in this fashion, yet many tend to revert back to where they came from when they were on the front line (i.e. sales, ops, accounting, etc.). It’s often seen by employees as a sign of mistrust or micromanaging, instead of being helpful. To the CEO it seems different as if they are rolling up their sleeves to help or to provide some value.
The key is to know the difference between medaling and managing. My advice is that if you have capable managers then you shouldn’t even attempt to manage their direct reports (lead yes, manage no). If you have capable department heads, then let them tell you first what resources they need before telling them what they should be doing. At some point you can’t, and shouldn’t, make every decision if you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people. That’s the importance of becoming the talent scout for your business.
The secret is to continuously elevate the role of the CEO to the highest level of strategic thinking for the company and be ready when called upon to be a resource for imparting wisdom, business advice, and industry best practices. For the CEO’s; avoid making routine decisions that should be left to others closer to the situation, yet be more than willing to talk through the situations when asked. Share stories, as many as you can that help them reach the right answer without telling them what to do. Start wrapping your mind around the idea that you are no longer the talent – rather the talent scout – and that’s an awesome role to have in a company. C