There’s an old saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It carries real wisdom, especially for the entrepreneur.
There’s already been so much written on the intuition that entrepreneurs have. It’s that problem-solving, vision-casting, money-making edge that we can never stop talking about--with good reason. But of course, we’re often full of more ideas and possibilities than we’ll ever have time for...
The truth is that an entrepreneur’s vision is just that: a vision. Without the right support, your vision will struggle to become a polished reality… if it ever does. You're not just a business person with an idea. You're a busy leader with a team, and the quality of your leadership is often what makes or breaks the success of your business.
That’s why today we’re diving into a crucial component of becoming a leader that knows how to sharpen the value of your team. To lead them in a way that fosters a sense of ownership and creativity. If you’re a business owner who wants to change your staff from their persistent headache to your most reliable asset, keep reading.
I often hear owners tell me this Gary Vaynerchuck quote: “I don’t expect my employees to work as hard as I do. It’s not their business.” And I get it. Being a business owner inherently means you have more skin in the game than your team--and it’s fair to not unduly put that expectation on them.
At the same time, that can mean that owners fall prey to an “it’s all up to me” mindset. They get trapped in the idea that there’s no one capable enough, creative enough, and engaged enough to “bring to the table” when faced with a big decision.
But I’m here to assure you of this: there probably are people within your organization that you can (and should) loop in when making decisions--and it might not be the people you would expect. Let’s get into it.
There’s no shame in admitting you don’t know everything. That’s why my first recommendation when you’re faced with a decision is to suss out whether there might be an expert already in your midst. What do I mean by “expert”?
I actually don’t mean someone with a PhD--you don’t generally find those kinds of people in mid-level B2B management. I’m just talking about someone in your organization who knows a little bit more than you do about a particular area.
For example, let’s say you’re thinking about expanding into a new market--one you think your business would serve well, but that you have no direct experience with.
Before you rush headlong into it, find out if there is anyone (and I do mean anyone, not just your upper level team) who has any experience with that market. You might be surprised that a recent hire was, in fact, previously working in that market--or that someone’s family business was in that market.
Does that make them the be-all-end-all expert? No--but it gives you some boots on the ground insight that you would have to work a lot harder to get yourself.
Making plans without experience in an area usually gets you started in the wrong direction, so don’t waste time speculating about potential ideas until you’ve brought in some “experts”- otherwise you’ll end up backtracking more often than your business can afford.
Now, if you’ve sought out expertise within your organization and are still coming up empty, then I’d suggest doing some additional research--or even looking for a coach or consultant to fill the gap. Their “nuts and bolts” experience will fast-track the success of whatever decision or new initiative you’re trying to come up with.
Imagine going out to eat and having someone unilaterally decide what you’re going to order--you’d be frustrated, right? After all, you’ll be the one eating the food. The same goes for your team. Yes, you need to be a clear, confident leader--but unless your employees are sheep (and, by the way, they aren’t) you can’t just deliver “directions from on high” and expect them to fall in line with no complaints.
This brings me to the second kind of person you need at the table for big decisions: the implementers. The people who will actually be carrying out your vision and making it happen. Because for them to execute your decision successfully, you need their input and buy-in.
Now, that doesn’t mean that their vote is what ultimately makes the decision--nor does it mean that you have to be at the mercy of their every opinion. You’re still in the driver's seat. But before you set your course and hand out the marching orders, bring them into the decision-making process and find out:
In short, find out what they’re most excited (and least excited) about on the menu, so that you don’t just “order for them”. Everyone involved will enjoy the experience a lot more, and you’ll be in line to get better results from them.
Lastly, whenever you’re making a big decision, I always recommend you reach out to an outside voice that you trust for a “sanity-check”. As my colleague Tom Poland once told me “it’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the jar.”
Thus far, you’ve sought out the experts and implementers within your organization, but that means they’re still in the jar with you. Now, we need the final gut check from an outside perspective, which could be:
They don’t have to be an expert in the decision at hand--in fact, it’s often best for them to be just removed enough from your situation that you really have to explain what’s going on and what you’re thinking. That’s how you’ll find out if you’ve connected the dots in a way that makes sense.
If you can consistently bring these three kinds of people to the table for decisions, I think you’ll find that your decision-making process yields better results--because you’ll be reaping the benefits of leveraging your team’s expertise, gaining their buy-in, and protecting your blind spots. While it might be a change to your status-quo, I think you’ll find the effort of bringing more people to the table will be well worth the result.