I had the opportunity to sit down with a business leader (and his team) whose business was in transition. It was a solid company with seven-figure revenue, a healthy growth margin, employees, a solid customer base and good brand equity in the industry; it is a body of work to be proud of. As we were discussing his business, his challenges, and the opportunities for the future, he stopped almost in mid sentence and looked at me.
As he continued to look at me he said with a tone of melancholy, "You know, if I have one regret as I look back at everything, it would be that I did not delegate enough; I could have grown so much more".
A thin cloud of discomfort filled the room, and as I reflect on it, I am not sure if it was because of the vulnerable position he had taken, or that he was sharing such a regret, or that we have all been culpable of doing the same thing at one time or another. Regardless of the reason, we were quick to change the topic and the tone of the banter on him because we knew, as well as he did, it was a failing in leadership; be it his or our own.
It is a very rare thing indeed for anyone to accomplish anything of worth by themselves and there is almost always a team of people involved*. This is what I was reminded of as we parted company, and I greatly appreciate the business leader's time, insight and the reminder.
- Hire the best people you can and hire them for more than the job you are currently discussing.
- Look for trustworthiness in the people you hire and the people you want to work with. When the challenges get difficult and the expectations are high, sometimes trustworthiness is the only thing that ensures it all gets done.
- Develop your people and the teams they work on. Although we all come with skills and competencies, more often than not, we need to be developed to take us where we want to go.
- Delegate activities to people and your team. A leader who rolls up her sleeves and gets involved is always well thought of, and it goes without saying how important it is to really know your business, but in the end you can't do it all yourself. It is important to delegate and assign activities to people to prevent burnout, re-enforce a culture of trust, and a culture of growth and development; this will ensure all the work needed to be successful gets done.
When I ultimately look back on the body of work I am creating, I don't think I will have the same regret as this business leader, but with that said, I can think of a situation or two when I probably should have delegated.
* I probably should just say nothing of worth gets accomplished without a team of people but then again there is always the exception to the rule.