I’ve met many business owners through the years who admit that if something happened to them the business would have a hard time continuing operations for any period of time. This always makes me nervous. Leadership isn’t about building dependency upon any one person. It is about getting a group of people working interdependently towards a common goal. Of course it’s much harder to do this when you are relatively small, but as you begin to grow and add staff, you should be constantly thinking about building operational redundancy and minimizing personnel/performance risk.

The best thing you can do for an employee is to teach him/her to think for themselves rather than do the work for them. People grow through solving their own problems and taking on additional responsibility. Everyone’s role and responsibilities should be clear to them and they should understand the big picture and how all the various part of the company fit together. In addition, training programs should be in place to ensure that all employees are regularly sharpening their skills and growing their business acumen. Your energy should be spent on creating an environment that encourages individual initiative rather than worrying if people are capable of doing their job.

It’s a hard thing for a leader to minimize and focus their own role while growing the role of others. There is a certain amount of personal validation that comes from being the main cog in the wheel. If everything runs through you there is this sense of control that initially feels comforting. However, you can’t successfully grow a business this way. Things will quickly get out of hand as you try and multi-task your way through every issue. If you build a culture of dependency, people will literally wait for your input before doing anything of significance and there is only ever so much of you to go around. A long-term strategy of individual leader hyper-performance only leads to increased stress, growing fatigue, reactive decision making and uneven accountability. If you are not careful, you will end up becoming the biggest obstacle to your own success.

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