Nov 082014

Dr. Earl R. Smith II

I have worked with dozens of CEOs over the years and one of their main complaints is that they never seem to have enough time. Their list of important things to do never gets any smaller. In any company, the CEO’s to do list has the potential to grow infinitely. However, that it will is not a certainty. It depends on your ability to delegate and to choose the right people to delegate to.

If you are facing this situation, it might be high time to hire a coaching! As a senior executive or CEO, your main function includes holding the company’s vision; inspiring your senior management and your staff; fostering key relationships with customers, vendors, investors and the public. In order to do these jobs effectively you will need to let go of other projects such as product design, hiring, sales, and many of the other hats that you have worn for your company in the past. In short, you must cease being the ‘Chief of Everything’ and instead become and focus on your role as CEO.

Although most CEOs do know how to delegate, they are often take a rather casual approach to deciding what jobs should be delegated. They also tend to be opportunistic when selecting which task to delegate to which employee. They often end up delegating the project or task to the wrong person. Some other CEOs are delegation-averse. I have worked with CEOs who just could not bring themselves to let go of certain tasks. One insisted on reviewing and approving all the travel expenses. Another was always getting involved in personnel matters. A third insisted on managing the quality control protocols within the company. None of these was a good use of the CEO’s time – and some of them were downright counterproductive. A good executive coach will help you sort things out and delegate more efficiently.

A coach will help you identify your highest value contribution to your company. The basic question is which one generates the most revenue, profit, and/or market share? Remember, your greatest contribution as a CEO is in mobilizing the forces around you: your senior management and your employees. Everything else is secondary to that in terms of impact. A coach will help you delegate those tasks, which take your time away from that high-impact work, and help you delegate them in such a way that they are done right and delivered on time.

An experienced coach is one who has been down the delegation road many times before and can teach you the right approach because of that experience. Working with a coach will help ease your fear of delegating responsibilities. The truth is that, if you do not delegate, then the growth of your company will be blocked.

Over the years, I have seen many negative consequences of a CEO’s meddling involvement in the day-to-day operations of their company. Decisions are differed because the CEO is away at a sales call. Managers who should make decisions hesitate to do so out of fear of being second-guessed. A company faces serious staffing issues but new employees cannot be hired because the CEO has failed to sign off on their new hiring contracts and is currently at a meeting. The most common negative consequence is probably when negotiations on an important contract are held up because the CEO has had to travel out of town for a conference. The tendency to micro-manage is a sure signal that the CEO either does not know how to delegate or does not trust the people who should actually bear the responsibility for getting the work done.

As the CEO, you may be limiting the success of your organization simply because you feel that you have to be involved in every minutia of the business. I have had clients that struggled to accept this idea – some of the work we did together was hard on them. However, in the end, they all accepted the need to delegate and that acceptance always had a substantial and positive effect on their company and its fortunes. Remember that the greatest advantage that you have as a CEO is in leading your company. Concentrate your time on that and success will surely follow.

If you area a CEO facing the delegation challenge or want to know more about my coaching services, send me an e-mail and we will arrange a time to talk.

© Dr. Earl R. Smith II

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