What Management Style Do I Need for My Leadership Team?
Several years ago, I had the privilege of learning directly from the great Verne Harnish.
If you aren’t familiar with Verne, he is the founder of EO, the founder of the Rockefeller Habits and what later became Scaling Up, and a wise, wise, man who talks like Yoda.
And no, I’m not just saying that because I love Star Wars.
Verne was a guest speaker at the Entrepreneurial Masters Program, and he spent 4 incredible hours with our cohort during my time at EMP.
As he was going into detail about how to manage your company from a people perspective, a hand went up.
“How does this apply to managing your senior leadership team?”
I’ll never forget it. Verne said, “The definition of a senior team is that they’re a group of people that does not need to be managed.”
I threw my pen down.
Verne may as well have done a mic drop and walked out of the room.
This single statement has clarified SO MUCH about what it means to have a truly senior leader on your team.
Senior leaders are supposed to identify the problems and figure out the solutions. They enforce accountability and drive action, all on their own.
If you need to manage a senior leader . . . you don’t have one.
There are very few true senior leaders out there. There are many executives, and there are many managers. Those roles are all important, but when you expect someone to fill a set of shoes that are just too big for them, you as the business owner will inevitably end up disappointed.
So as Verne drops his truth bomb, I have a major realization: I have exactly one senior leader (in my company at the time)—and he is in the wrong seat.
We changed his role, and 8 years later, we’ve never looked back.
Now, to be clear: your team still needs structure. They still need accountability to their colleagues and a little pressure to make sure they hit their targets. They still need a supportive culture and to feel like they’re part of a team—especially if you want them to stick around.
But all of those things are the infrastructure that allows already great people to excel.
You need to lead your team as the founder or CEO, the keeper of your company’s vision. But if you have senior leaders on board, you don’t need to manage them to help you achieve it.
And if you don’t currently have senior leaders on your team? First, it’s important to recognize—and be grateful for—the people you do have.
I’ve seen leadership teams that might technically be composed of “middle managers” carry a company far on dedication and grit. They may not have all the answers, and they may need some management, but they are a valuable part of your organization. Appreciate them for what they are, and don’t try to make them something they’re not.
If you’re ready to bring a senior leader on board? Well, now you know the bar. A senior leader will come in and show you they know how to clear it.
P.S. Our methodology, GROWTH, has plenty of tools for leading and managing your team at every level of your organization. If you aren’t working with a consultant already, let us connect you with one.