One of the biggest challenges for smaller businesses competing in knowledge industries (where knowledge is the product) – is how to grow and deliver great value to customers without relying on the leader to personally deliver the value. For knowledge companies, the leader is typically the product’s originator, and by virtue of interest, skill, experience, and emotional connection, the best practitioner. Unfortunately, if the leader has to be involved in every activity, the growth of the company will be limited.
Leaders offer varied explanations for the status quo: No one else can do this as well. Clients expect me. It’s too hard to explain / teach. It’ll go faster if I do it. I don’t have time to prepare the necessary training materials.
Employees are frequently under-utilized in these circumstances. Hired for their intelligence and drive, but then constrained by a workflow dependent on one individual, employees become order-takers, applying their intelligence and drive in ever-decreasing ways.
You’ve already hired people you want to work with. Be specific about what you want your company to deliver, and then lead and support employees’ efforts to deliver great output efficiently. Growth and improved productivity will occur when you align skills and interests to company needs.
In Who’s Got Your Back, Keith Ferrazzi writes, “Companies grow beyond the talents of a founder to encompass the skills, dreams, and expertise of every employee…. [Leaders need] to take the company from me to we.” When all in the company, from leader to newest hire, are getting to do what they like and are good at, improved value and profits will result.