How to Back Out of Business Operations and Step Into Your CEO Shoes
One of the secret killers of business growth is keeping an employee who is just “good enough.”
When someone is underperforming in a role, they are sucking up time, energy, and budget. And the rest of your team, those A players you want to keep happy, are overcompensating to get the job done.
I’ve helped many leadership teams make tough decisions when it comes to “good enough” employees. These are often some of the most loyal folks who may even be a great cultural fit. But when it comes down to it, the company needs someone different in their seat.
Here’s the irony: although so many CEOs have seen how being “good enough” holds back the business, they don’t ever think it applies to them.
Why a CEO Should Only Have One Job
It is extremely common, especially when a company is small and growing, for the CEO to sit in multiple seats. Often, they start as the technician of the company, doing the core work of the business. Or maybe they are the one and only salesperson who generates new revenue.
When you’re just starting out, this is necessary. But as you grow, the CEO becomes myopic about their own abilities. They think they are good enough to keep going in the role (or, even worse, they think they are actually the BEST person for the job).
Unfortunately, they’re usually not. And coincidentally (?), that portion of the business never seems to get beyond good enough, either.
1. Not enough time.
A CEO sitting in another seat is, by definition, doing both roles fractionally. Now, instead of doing one thing well, their time is split into doing two things that are just okay.
2. Not enough skill.
As the business evolves, it will need more experienced leaders. Although the CEO may have some skills, they may eventually need to be supplanted in a sales or delivery role.
3. Not enough bandwidth.
Being in the day-to-day of the business makes it extremely hard to perform the key functions of a CEO—most of which involve a much higher level view of the business. It’s two completely different headspaces, and it’s hard to toggle between them.
If you’re a CEO who feels overstretched or like your business has stalled out, I encourage you to take a long hard look at how you’re actually spending your time.
How a CEO Can Step Away from Other Parts of the Business
So, if you find out you’re sitting in more than one seat, what can you do about it?
As always, the first step is acknowledging you have a problem.
Next, identify the real reason you’re sitting in that non-CEO seat.
- Compensating for another underperforming employee?
- Overestimating your own time and talents?
- Making a conscious decision based on company finances?
- Just haven’t gotten around to replacing yourself in the role?
- Absolutely love doing that thing and also amazing at it (don’t be fooled—this is probably NOT you)
Then, decide what action you’ll take next. You may need to ride it out for 3-6 months before you can replace yourself. Maybe you can delegate to a current employee or start a new talent search ASAP.
Even if you need a longer time frame, make a plan for how to get yourself out of that role so you can start stepping into your CEO shoes.
Give that all-important role the time and attention it deserves.
Your company will thank you for it.
P.S. Check out our webinar on other common mistakes that CEOs make. And contact us if you need help redefining your role in your business.