Tim Mercer, CEO of Vapour Cloud, provides his top ten tips to SMEs on how CEOs and managing directors can let go of their business.
1. In the early days, doing everything from setting the strategy to sweeping the floor, is the norm. Use this time to learn where your strengths truly lie and use this insight to delegate what doesn’t come naturally.
2. Recruit people better than you. Some business leaders are afraid of looking inferior compared to stand-out colleagues, but nobody is an expert at everything.
3. Identify leaders throughout the company. A leadership team could be made up of senior managers, but remember true leadership isn’t earned with hierarchy. Anyone has the power to influence and inspire others, so look for people at all levels, who can do that. They’ll have the power to maintain momentum as you gradually step back.
4. Define a clear sense of purpose. Values are a very personal thing and we can’t always share each other’s beliefs. However, we can have a common goal, that is at the very least understood by everyone. This should be well communicated and run throughout everything. Otherwise, the need to keep stepping in is unlikely to fade.
5. It’s an age-old technique but think about the legacy you’d like to leave behind – almost as if you are to draft an obituary. Most CEOs don’t just want to make a quick buck, they want to build a business with lasting impact, that will survive long after they’ve exited. This is only possible if you can let go of certain things as the years pass.
6. Bite your tongue. If you hire managers to do a job, empower them to do it. Let them know you’re there to consult and advise, but micro-managing and interfering in every decision undermines their authority.
7. Learn from others – you won’t be the only person to have worked hard and struggled through difficult times.
8. Books are a great starting point. My preferred reads are actually stories of people who have overcome adversity throughout many walks of life.
9. Make time for personal development. A CEO who is truly committed to individual growth will naturally be better equipped to steer the growth of the company and the team, and will be more inclined to let go of things that others can competently handle.
10. Focus on why you started the organisation and what truly matters. For me, I’m trying to build a better life for my family and a technology company with ethics, that my children will grow up to be proud of. Reminding myself of this helps me allow the company to flourish.