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Congratulations! You have built your business and revenues are rolling in. The question now becomes: are your earnings the same as they were last year, and the year before that?

Perhaps you are noticing that something else has changed too. Are your employees showing signs of becoming disengaged? If your growth is stalling, and the energy within your organization has become stagnant, the time has come to look at the underlying cause.

More often than not, your organization's inability to continue moving forward in a positive direction begins and ends with your leadership skills. Yes, your leadership skills.

Successful entrepreneurs build their businesses often out of nothing more than an idea. In doing so, they rely almost entirely on their own drive, passion, skills, savvy and connections to get their vision off the ground, and move a business out of its cradle stages. But from the cradle emerges the child. And as children are often unwilling to share their toys, entrepreneurs can become especially stubborn about handing over control of functional aspects of their business. Similarly, there are only so many toys that a single child can physically hold. Entrepreneurs who try to retain too many business responsibilities are no different. They'll quickly find that their reach exceeds their grasp, and something eventually slips through their fingers. Whether its revenue, growth, or momentum, it's likely an aspect of business they'd prefer stays under control. Great leaders recognize, in these scenarios, they need to share the responsibilities of running their company with others.

Shifting From Functional To Strategic Management

When companies are small, the entrepreneur's tendency toward control is more realistic. But no company achieves greater levels of success if the CEO keeps a major role in the day-to-day.

No one can be expected to know it all, or handle it all. Again we revisit the theme of vulnerability.

When leaders demonstrate their vulnerability, relinquish control and reach out to the skilled members of their team, these key executives feel valued and enthusiastic about new opportunities, and positive energy propels the business in the right direction. Passing off new challenges and targets to your team ensures they grow and diversify their skill sets as well, keeping their abilities in-line with the business's new, greater targets.

Another illustration of this leadership dilemma is likening an organization to a bottle. The term bottleneck refers to a type of blockage or jam at execution, with the leader's tight grip on deliverables slowing the output of an organization. When the organization is unable to move beyond its leader, it creates a bottle neck. Remember, "the neck of the bottle is at the top!"

When your employees are no longer as engaged or excited about your business, it is a sign that they may be frustrated by their inabilities to demonstrate their talents. They may have grown beyond their role but still want to make meaningful contributions to the company. When there is a disconnect between the leader's desire for growth, and refusal to relinquish control of the operations, it's time to transform your business. To quote Walt Sutton, "The successful entrepreneur who aspires to become a great manager may be condemning his/her business to death." The time has come to stop working in your business, and to start working on it. 


Larry Hart

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