15/10/2010

By Andrew Lester

“Doing myself out of my own job every year” is a very laudable objective. Few manage it — sometimes it takes longer than expected, other times the unexpected gets in the way. But it does work when applied positively in a considered and planned approach to developing sustainable business.

On the positive side, doing yourself out of your own job, is a great mantra for those who have the team, structure and discipline around them to move on sustainably. What is it that leads some owners / directors to actively seek to “move on” regularly and how do their operating styles fit with the rest of the business?

Firstly some are just born butterflies. They love creating, defining solutions, but leaving the detail and the follow through to others. Typically they are “right” brain dominated thinkers. They are easily interested in a wide variety of subjects, absorbing trends and information from all walks of life, constantly sifting them for opportunities. Others are true innovators: keen to improve everything about the business, with detailed sector knowledge and a drive to define, create, implement, consolidate and move on. This latter group tend to be successful serial entrepreneurs, capable of developing sustainable businesses in associated sectors.

Owners and directors who want to “move on regularly” have to constantly redefine their roles and responsibilities. This has major implications for the company. Not only do others have to pick up the “discarded” tasks, the owner / director involved has to clearly communicate the changing responsibilities, acknowledge the impact and ensure the plates don’t stop spinning. Moving on sustainably can only be done with the explicit understanding, support and willingness of the wider organisation to accept constant change.

“Moving on regularly” is not just about personal drive and motivation. It is also very clearly about leadership, consistency in managing change and deep respect for those around you who play the supporting roles. As one of my colleagues once said to me about his ever moving boss:

“my job is to run along behind, picking up the pieces and making sense of all his (the boss’s) initiatives. I’m his Babel fish — translating what he wants done into deliverable actions to drive continuous growth.”

We work in many organisations where owners and directors are constantly frustrated by an inability to “do myself out of my own job” each year. Their personal drive is thwarted by their organisations that can’t keep pace. “I just can’t get the right staff” is a regular refrain. In such circumstances the company has to be restructured to give appropriate support that drives sustainable growth — this often means forcing the “boss” to work up more fully the various opportunities available against a clear business strategy.

Please feel free to comment by contacting me: andrewlester@carr-michael.com

Andrew Lester is Managing Partner of Carr-Michael Consulting, specialists in growth management and business performance improvement.


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