Brett Snyder, who’s Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel, writes over at Intuit’s Small Business blog. Brett has some terrific thoughts for leaders who need to reduce the organization’s dependence on them:
I’ve been on two trips in the past week, and I’m tired. Every time I travel, it reminds me how important it is to get the business to a point where it can run without me. When you start a business yourself, too much of the knowledge automatically resides with you. Finding someone else with similar skills just provides a backup and doesn’t add much benefit, so the key is finding someone with other areas of expertise who still has enough overlapping skills to be able to fill in.
Although Brett’s advice is geared to small businesses, it has value for leaders in large companies as well. If you are involved in every aspect of your team’s operations, you risk burning out, or allowing the business to become incapacitated if you should have to temporarily remove yourself due to a personal or professional issue.
In addition to hiring team members who complement your strengths and fill in your areas of weakness, it’s critical that right-hand men and women are people who you trust implicitly and who know almost as much about the organization and team as you do.
You should regularly bring these individuals up to speed on everything you have your hands in, and allow them to independently manage important initiatives without your constant input. Encourage them to make decisions on their own so that if a day comes when you aren’t there to act as a sounding board, they will be able to handle things seamlessly.
Instead of having to personally manage the work of the entire team, assign your right-hand men and women to supervise both the daily responsibilities and the long-term career growth of junior members. This approach will prevent you from becoming too indispensible as a manager and mentor, and will also help to ensure tight integration.
What ideas do you have for reducing a team’s dependence on the leader?