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How to act like a CEO – even when you feel like the office runner

Sometimes when you run your own business, or even your own division or segment of a broader business, it is hard to disengage from the day to day running of the business to actually lead.

There are a variety of reasons for this – when a business is young you actually have no choice – with few resources and much to do, there is no choice but to do it all.

But as a business matures and you are able to have more resources to take on various specialist roles, it is sometime hard to know what to let go, and when.

I must admit over the last 15 years there have been many times when I have hung on too tight, or let go too soon. This can be detrimental to the bottom line of the business, and the morale of the team.

Knowing how to pull back and lead is an art form. Understanding the boundaries between strategy and implementation is part of it. Appointing the right people to own an outcome is another.

Here are three ways to extract yourself from the doing, enabling you to effectively lead:

  1. Set budgets and timelines. If you have clarity over how you expect the business to perform over a determined period of time, you can then hold your team accountable for the end result. You can also decide in advance what part you will play in that goal. Knowing your role from the outset will help you stick to it and give it your best.
  2. Create a dashboard for your business leaders to run to. If each member of your team has weekly accountability and you receive that summary, you can check in on the health of that area of the business without feeling the need to step in and run it.
  3. Feel the fear and do it anyway. I love the saying ‘imagine what you could do, if you knew you could not fail’. Letting go is not easy if you fear it won’t work without you. However, if you set a clear vision, set realistic expectations, give people ownership of their area and stay informed, it is hard to go wrong. You then have time to focus on strategic growth and change for the better. Which is good for everyone.

So walk tall future and current leaders – a better and more profitable business awaits you.

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