I meet with CEOs and Presidents of mid-market companies each and every week, and one commonality stands out amongst all other. Businesses that grow are lead by CEOs that believe their employees collectively have more intelligence than they do. Put another way, despite the background and experience of the CEO or President, he or she clearly recognizes that their employees are actually more knowledgeable in the business, the customers and the marketplace then the CEO can ever possibly be.
Let me share with you a recent example of two very different CEOs.
The first is someone I met following a talk I delivered. When we discussed the ideas I spoke of and how they might apply to her business, the CEO suggested that they’ve always recognized her employees have more ideas then she and her entire executive team did, but had never, until my talk, recognized how simple it actually is to tap into the ideas and put them to work in order to improve the business.
The second CEO is someone I met several years ago. He built his business from the ground up, and to this day still is actively involved in the business, some 25 years after it’s inception. Yet his activity tends to be sporadic, dropping into meetings, challenging the ideas of employees and constantly referring to the way things “used to be done.”
Which of these two CEOs do you think has the most motivated and productive staff? Which has the highest turn over amongst new employees? Which has more support then their executive team? The answer of course would be the first CEO I referenced above.
Now I’m sharing this not to suggest there is something specifically wrong with either approach. Being involved in what’s happening in the business on the front lines is critically important to staying connected with the performance of the business, however one of these CEOs has a team of very supportive, engaged and interested employees, whereas another does not.
More importantly, the first CEO has employees who can step up and make educated and supportive decisions that support the business, rather than defer everything to the CEO (which is what tends to happen in the second instance).
So, my question for you today is quite simple. When you reflect on how you interact with your team today, are you being inclusive and building a team that is strong without you, or are you inadvertently building a greater and greater reliance on you as a leader of the team.
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One approach is clearly more sustainable and less stressful than the other.
© Shawn Casemore 2016. All rights reserved.