Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

Mary’s Weekly Articles and Valuable Tools

Subscribe below and get Dr. Mary Kelly’s
weekly newsletter in your inbox.


Is your leadership getting in the way of profitability?

Leaders often don’t realize how much of a role they play in the success or failure of all aspects of business growth. Great leaders run profitable companies because they follow great leadership practices.  Looking to improve profitability?

1. Hire the best people you can find.  Then trust them to do their jobs. This is also known as the theory of efficiency wages. You hire the best people you can, pay them as well as you can, and provide them with a terrific work environment where they are trusted to do their jobs, empowered to make good decisions, and valued for their contribution. Show them that you trust them to do their jobs by asking for their suggestions and then implementing their suggestions.  You hired great people, so take their advice.  

2. Don’t micromanage your top talent. If you have, in fact, hired great people, you can ruin their initiative , motivation, and and productivity by micromanaging them. When you micromanage and second-guess your top talents’ decisions, they lose confidence in you because they feel you have lost confidence in them. This diminishes trust and makes them less likely to experiment and take risks.  Accept that even your best people will occasionally make mistakes because that is what comes with risk. And don’t be tempted to micromanage when people make mistakes.

3. Know when to give up control and get out-of-the-way. Many executives are the reason the company is not growing as it should. They spend too much time in meetings, want more detail than is necessary, and don’t delegate decision-making. As a result, they are the obstacle to growth in their company.  Helpful questions to ask your team include, “Do you need my help or advice on this?” If the answer is no, tell them to run with the project. Ask, “How can I get out of your way?” Or, “What do you need for this project to be successful?” If you are not listed as part of the answer, trust your people to do their job.

4. Don’t let your insecurities become company policy. I was recently coaching an executive who was so afraid of bad quarterly earnings that he was bombarding his team with numerous requests for information, reports, and meetings.  He was creating all kinds of extra work for his people because he was scared.  He manufactured multiple layers of unnecessary management because he was afraid he might miss some aspect of the project. As his team tried to keep up with his ever-increasing and fairly ridiculous demands, they formulated processes to fulfill his requests. In less than a year, his insecurities had become part of the company policies and procedures.  They were costing resources and  were inhibiting the company’s growth.

5. Plan a vacation. One of the vice presidents I am working with has not taken a vacation in three years because she is afraid she will miss something and have a mess when she returns. I encouraged her to take a two-week vacation and to pledge not to call the office even once.

Taking a vacation is a good idea on several fronts. First, we all need a chance to renew, rest, and reinvigorate so that we can return to work more energized. Second, it is healthy to spend quality time with the people we care most about such as family and friends. Third — and this is where she finally relented and decided to take a vacation — your team needs to be able to operate when you are not there. That is the sign that people know their jobs, are trusted to do their jobs, and fully understand the vision of the organization.  Fourth, it lets your team know that you trust them to handle whatever comes up while you are gone.  Fifth, you leaving gives people the opportunity to take on more responsibility and leadership.  

So go on.  Take a vacation.  Get out of your own way.  Trust your team.

What have you seen a leader do to get out of their own way? Please comment below.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *