Give and own responsibility
5 October 2021
We are responsible for everything when we start a business. Days and nights are filled with sustained efforts to revise product, convince customers and investors, create delivery process and sometimes merely stay alive.
Once the machine starts to turn however, what is required of us is different than at the launch. Instead of being alone or just with co-founders, we are surrounded by people we’ve hired to help – if we’ve hired well, they are strong, capable and thoughtful employees who have skills and desires that align with our business purpose and values. (You did communicate the company purpose and values, right?)
But in order to make the transition from launching to leading, we must give others responsibilities that had been ours. It is not easy for us; it’s not easy to see someone else’s code or layout or execution or even an email to an important client. We constantly think, “That’s not how I did it” or “I think that could have been done better.”
Will our business operate well or grow if we are responsible for everything? Of course not. Yes, it’s true as a leader that the buck stops with us, however, now we don’t execute every job, and our responsibilities are different than they were during launch.
Two changes must occur for us to successfully pivot from launching to leading:
- We need to truly allow others to be responsible for jobs – pieces of the business – that match their skills and capacity. The tasks and responsibilities in employees’ job descriptions are no longer ours. Let go.
- However, we simultaneously need to take on new responsibility for both leading and coordinating how the business operates plus its success or failure. While a certain job is now our employee’s responsibility, it is now our responsibility to give that employee the practical resources and emotional support to succeed, plus create structure and procedures in our business that produces results.
If our employees jobs are well coordinated internally, and we provide the right environment and guidance for each employee to succeed, our business will not only survive, but thrive over time.
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