I recently had lunch with my two Vice Presidents and asked them an important question; one that I ask myself and others every year.
"What's my role?", I asked. "What do you and the team need of me?" "What do our clients need from me?"
You might think this a case of the obvious, especially in a professional practice like ours (and yours). After all, I'm the founder, leader, sole "official owner," chief technician and CEO of my firm. Isn't my job crystal clear? Aren't I simply the top dog; the big kahuna; the answer man; the keeper of the brand…the "doctor?"
The answer is clearly…No! Especially in growth-oriented firms, the role of the leader changes. In my particular case, I'm striving to build a sustainable enterprise; an asset that will serve all stakeholders well beyond Al Cleinman's time in this life. While a young 53, my current plan is to "die in the saddle." Retirement, like failure, is not an option. I'll be around as long as I can contribute.
Yet there are parts of my work that are not as enjoyable as others; and parts of my current job that I don't do as well as others can. So, several years ago, I set out to fire myself from those jobs; making the strategic decision to invest in the best people I can find to help take our business to its full potential; leveraging and executing on our vision. Each year, I try to add an additional manager to assume "the presidency" of their specific area of influence. As a result, each year I have to assess what my role should be for the next.
I ask you to do the same. Ask yourself that hard question, "what is my role?" Ask your stakeholders. But before you do, please consider whether you first must make a change in your thinking. That change, while subtle, is significant and comes under the heading of "the words we use determines the outcome."
For many professionals, you consider your employees "your staff." They work to serve you. I hear it all the time; you reference them as "my staff," "my employees" and even "my girls." If this is your thinking, I ask that you consider a change. In my opinion, the people in our employ are not there to serve us; together, we are all here to serve our customers/clients/patients/…and each other. When we think as a team, vs. a hierarchy, we realign our organizational focus. We become one with our mission. And our singular focus becomes that of creating an organization that serves our mission.
Thus, just as from time to time you must consider your team's individual roles…do we have the right person doing the right job…so too you must consider yours. We are all part of a team and roles must change as the enterprise changes.
By now, you may be wondering what the response was to my original question of our team leaders.