I’m wondering… You’ve spoken to how many business owners by now? Approximately?
In the course of my career, I’ve probably met with a thousand companies. I was in investments. I was a small-cap analyst. I work with these tiny, very small market cap companies. I’ve talked to a lot of executives, business owners.
With the ones that you have been able to engage with, I’m wondering what’s the most common leadership problem that they have. As a business operator, I’m sure you’ve encountered some people struggling with leadership. It is a very difficult thing to grasp, to just be able to love people and serve them, even if you’re paying them. And even if they’re making mistakes, that could have been avoided if they just took the time. These are stuff that I personally go through and I know how frustrating it is. I just want to ask what are the most common leadership problems that you’ve encountered with business owners that you’ve coached or dealt with.
There’s a distinction and I’m sure you know, this. Between how the problem feels to you as the leader, what the problem looks like to me as in, from the outside, and obviously how the problem manifests in the financials or in how the employees would restate it, part of it is understanding all of that. Typically, when people come to me, what they know is that the business isn’t growing the way that it used to, or there’s a perception if they’re further along in the life cycle. And maybe they’re thinking about the next thing. They’re trying to figure out who could run the business if they wanted to launch a new venture or they’re looking at maybe retiring, like what would happen to the business.
Those are kind of the two things I tend to get. When somebody comes in and the growth is stalled out. It’s almost always, it’s one of two things they say. One of them is, I can’t work any harder, and I can’t clone myself. I’m working full out. I’m not growing. That part isn’t working. And often there’s a tone of, you know, I hired these nice people and I like them, but they can’t, they can’t do what I do. When I look at that, that’s a lack of delegation.
People want to have control and I don’t know where the control comes from. We’re doing a lot of work on what’s the source of this control issue so that you can go at how you would delegate. But a lot of it’s just building the practice of delegation. But they’ve convinced themselves that they have no one to delegate too often. Or I can delegate only the tasks that I don’t want, but I really can’t delegate client service. And it’s like, well, how are you ever going to sell your business to somebody if you do all of the sales and the client service, and it’s impossible.
The other one that I get is I’m working so hard and they’re almost over delegators. They’re really usually very passionate. About the process. A lot of people in design functions come in. They love design, but there’s no vision for what the purpose of the business is. They were just like, I don’t want to work for anyone else. I just want to do my own kind of design. I hired a bunch of people and now we’re all doing design and they are afraid to step into that leadership role because that’s not what they’re used to doing. To that, I come in much more with, like, what is the higher purpose? What is the vision? What’s the design in service of?
Now you’re going to have to step into that leadership and rally people around you. The good thing about that type of person is they’re typically over delegating. So what it is about is kind of helping them find the right team, but also helping them understand they are going to have to be the boss and that that’s not always fun.