It is highly unlikely that the New England Patriots of the NFL would have won so many championships if they kept quarterback Tom Brady on the bench. The NBA’s Chicago Bulls would likely have been a perennial loser if Air Jordan was grounded on the sidelines.
Fortunately for these players and their fans, rather than being threatened by their greatness, their coaches put their own egos aside, embraced their excellence, and got out of their way.
In the corporate world, we can see some parallels to this situation. Particularly, for many proud CEOs, it can be a difficult proposition to accept that the people they’ve surrounded themselves with -- people who sometimes are smarter, savvier, and more plugged in than they are – can exceed even their own talents.
That said, talent excellence is the difference maker in a challenged marketplace — the necessary element to revenue growth in a time when only the strong will survive. By investing in great talent and resourcing them appropriately to do what they do best, you can quickly gain or secure market share and do so in an elegant, lean, and powerful fashion.
If you have a solid team, consider yourself lucky: Nearly three quarters of CEOs said they’ve hired the wrong person for a position – a faux pas that can cost about $15,000 in lost expenses for every $50,000 in salary.
In this blog series, we’ve gradually nudged CEOs off their thrones and closer to the masses. Previously, we discussed the benefits of becoming more engaged with employees and consumers, and more insightful about the competition.
Now, it’s time to put the power of teamwork to work for you.
Here are some tips I’ve shared with reluctant CEOs that have helped them get the most out of the talented team at their disposal:
Micromanagement Is a No-No: If you’ve selected key players for their track record of success, it’s important to remember that their achievements likely came as a result of their own skills – and not those imposed upon them. The best thing you can do when hiring the best and brightest is to let them shine – let them run with their strategies and ideas rather than insisting upon your own. I’ve often encountered situations where CEOs said that, despite the use of “A” players, projects were taking twice as long to complete. Upon analysis, I discovered that the CEO was insisting on an outsized level of bureaucracy instead of simply assigning accountabilities and responsibilities to these managers – then getting out of the way.
Worth the Investment: Laying out the cash to obtain loftier talent can sometimes seem painful – particularly in these pandemically-pressured times. It’s important to remember that your investment is getting you someone who can hit the ground running – they will need less ramp-up, and less management time – and they likely will produce quicker and more remunerative results – easily offsetting the up-front cost.
Trust Your Talent Analysts: It is likely that you trust your HR person to bring you solid and experienced talent. Generally speaking, your HR executive likely has the emotional intelligence and insights to find the right talent to match the team’s culture and personality. Give them the license to do what they do best – cast a wide net, then winnow down the pack through an understanding of personalities, dynamics, communication styles, and other traits that can be hugely influential when making the right choice for your management team.
A Clean Desk is a Good Sign: Want to know if you’re managing your top talent appropriately? I find that you can generally gauge this by the cleanliness of your desk. I was once taught that if you are in the presence of a good CEO, you should enter their office and find it spotless. This likely means they are delegating well, and spending time on strategic thinking and visionary ideas, rather than getting caught up in the tactics. This approach has the added benefit of removing some of the blockage that inhibits company growth.
Just Enough is Sometimes NOT Enough: I get it – committing fully to the “A” player pondered here may not be in the cards, but you still need a game changer to help you execute your vision. Fortunately, the market conditions of the last decade or so have given rise to the fractional or part-time executive as a prescription for growth strategies, delivered now. Fractional chief financial officers, chief marketing officers, and chief sales officers are a way for a small- to mid-cap CEO to latch onto solid C-level talent at a lower cost.
So, with an assemblage of proper, successful, motivated and insightful talent, how do you put all of that to work for you? In our next blog, we’ll talk about the importance of creativity in putting your best foot forward.
In case you missed the previous articles in the series: