You Can’t Have it Both Ways – Message To Leaders

When it comes to accountability leaders can’t have it both ways.  What do I mean?  I mean leaders can’t hold people accountable for their decision YET make the decision for them.

I was talking to a friend the other day.  He is a CMO.  He was sharing how his CEO gets involved in his business often and has to be the final decision maker on most key decisions including, hiring of people and choosing of vendors.  The CEO’s desire to make the CMO’s decision for him has created a very difficult environment.   Imagine not being able to make the decision for the things you are responsible for.   I’m sure many of you can.  I see it too often.

Here is my challenge to leaders; let your people do their jobs, that means, let them hire their own employees.  Let them pick their own vendors.  Let them execute their own processes.  Let them make their own decisions.  Give them financial signing authority.  Give them the tools they need to be successful then hold them accountable.  OR, make the decisions for them, don’t give them financial signing authority, pick the vendors you see fit, be the final say in hiring, make them follow your processes, and you determine what tools they need, THEN when things fail, don’t blame them.

By building organzations where employees are empowered to do their jobs, leaders are forced to hire the best.   If you knew you couldn’t have any interaction or involvment in the decisions and job execution of your next CMO or EVP of Sales and Marketing, I’m quite sure the hiring process would look a little different.  I’m sure you’d make absolutely sure this person could get the job done and well.   This should come as no surprise.  Once we take ourselves out of the equation, we are forced to rely on others.   Unfortunately, for many leaders, even those who have risen to impressive heights, letting people do their jobs doesn’t come natural.

People want to be held accountable.  They want to do a good job.  They don’t want to be accountable for something in which they had few decisions.

My friend told me the reason the CEO get’s involved is the decisions are so important, he doesn’t want my friend to take the blame if they don’t work out.  That’s awfully noble of the CEO, but then why even have a CMO?    The point is no matter the reason, it is highly inefficient and ineffective not letting your employees make their own decisions.  If leaders want control and to feel safe, they should spend more time focused on exactly what level of autonomy each level in their organization should have and carefully layout what that autonomy looks like.   Then let go of the reigns.

I’ve worked in both types of organizations and I’ve found I am far more productive and successful when I have the authority to run my own business.  Regardless of title or role, when I’m not given the ability to live or die by my own sword, I flounder.

Give employees their own sword.  Tell them what you are looking to accomplish.  Give them the rules of engagement, then set them free.  Some will cut themselves, some will cut others, but most will take the hill far faster than if you tried telling them how to do it.

Let go already!