I was recently told by a business owner and successful entrepreneur that they were not "a leader". They admitted they know technology and operations but lacked true leadership skills. Their solution to this challenge was to hire outside to bring in "leaders" for their team. I can't help but think about how sad that is for this business owner and for their employees. How cheated the employees must feel to be led by someone who doesn't consider themselves a leader and how much the boss misses out on when they don't take on a leadership role. It is a blessing and responsibility to be in the role of leader. In an earlier blog I talked about career stewardship, but i didn't get to go into detail about how an important part of that stewardship responsibility is guidance and direction (in a nutshell - leadership). As part of that stewardship responsibility it is the business owner's position (or anyone who grows into a leadership role) to grow into that role. Your team is counting on it and you owe it to them. You can delegate some of the aspects of leadership, but you can never relegate your leadership in its entirety. If you do, you risk having less respect than if you had never taken that role. You owe it to your team to respond to the position they have entrusted you with by acting in their interests instead of pawning it off to someone else.
Here are three key aspects to delegating your leadership and not relegating it completely:
1. Vision and Values - You should actively participate in the vision and values determination. The entire team must know that the direction of the collective is set by you. Of course a group of managers should be used to guide the direction of the team, but you as the leader should set the pace. No one should wonder what you believe the company is capable of and what you dream for them.
2. Goals and Targets - As the leader in your organization your team needs to know exactly how you are measuring their success. This is not only in terms of revenue and margins, but other measurable and objective means of setting targets and goals. These need to be short, mid and long range goals.
3. Mission - This isn't just the blah, blah, blah statement on a plaque or on the website, but what is your company's make meaning? More than compensation, people want to know they belong to something bigger than themselves. Can you put a message behind what your company stands for? Can you lead that "mission?" This is important. You need to be the one to be able to bundle the company message. The mission should be your banner.
You need to be able to verbalize these three topics before you get into the weeds. Too many leaders can rattle off the small details of the organization, but don't have these leadership aspects down. The vision and values, goals and targets and the mission should all be cast the same way a mission is cast for the crew of an aircraft carrier. Every member of the crew plays a part in determining where the aircraft carrier is heading. Engineering, navigation, operations, quartermaster and so on all play their part. All of these crew members must know the overall mission in order to play their part in determining the direction and making it happen. If they do not know the vision, values, goals, targets and mission, they are left to driving the ship without a plan and all hell breaks loose. The entire team works better when the plan comes from the top and the plan is well communicated with commitment and care.
You don't have to have great charisma or an Executive MBA, but you do have to step up and use what you do have. Use your strengths and gather the strengths of the rest of your management team to build on. Your team is counting on you to lead and delegate and not relegate. Your job as a leader is to lead. You can delegate some, but you cannot relegate at all.