Grow up! embrace the role of “Grandparent” to your business.



Good leaders should feel like they’re playing the part of grandparent.

Maybe you’re an entrepreneur who has poured blood and sweat into the precarious start-up phase and can now appreciate the fruits of an established company. Or are you a corporate ladder climber, finally looking down from on high? Either way, you’ve spent a couple of decades mired in the details and have earned the right to take a step back and consider the big picture.

Stewarding a successful company from where you sit on top is essential, obviously, and rather than getting stuck in the weeds of daily grind-ome, like a parent raising small children must do, you get to channel your inner Richard Branson and become the face of, and guiding force behind, the company. Who wouldn’t want to be Richard Branson?

Sounds pretty alright, right? But how can you really ensure you’re the older, wiser grandparent-type figure, and not the confused, past-your-expiration-date-type character?

Meet the new boss

McKinsey & Company recently released a report about the power locked inside small, independent teams, who, when assembled properly, can accomplish so much more than larger teams kept on a tight leash by a single leader. Small teams react to changing market scenarios quickly without pushing through a ton of red tape. Will there be epic fails? Of course. But epic fails are going to happen along the way regardless of who has the wheel. By stepping back, you let fresh ideas in that will give you the chance to grab more epic wins.

Consider this: What got you from point A to point B as an entrepreneur or executive might not be what gets you from point B to point C.

According to McKinsey, “One role for managers (that’d be you, fine leader) in an agile organization is to help independent teams choose the outcomes they will pursue and measure their achievements in precise, meaningful terms. It’s the job of top executives to hold teams accountable for delivering those outcomes — and to quickly allocate resources away from disappointing endeavors and toward successful ones.”

Easy for McKinsey to say, but how do you build great teams in reality?

Lean on an agile, on-demand, vetted workforce (like the company I founded, Communo) to resource stellar talent required for the task at hand. Scaling up, or down, in a flash keeps costs under control while ensuring you have access to right people when you need them.

How Will Small Teams Stick to My Company’s Established Processes?

Answer? They won’t, and that’s okay. You need to define outcomes and let curated groups find their own routes to the finish lines. I always say that whoyou surround yourself with is so much more important than how you are going to achieve something. It doesn’t matter how the job is completed, it just matters who you’ve put in place to reach express goals.

Richard Branson’s seal of approval

I’ve stepped away from some of my businesses and have allowed my teams more autonomy to run the companies as they see fit. While I’ve observed a little slippage, I’ve also seen amazing growth that was a result of me taking necessary distance. McKinsey is right to suggest that small, agile teams are the future, and I challenge you to step away and into your older, wiser grandparent role, too.

Nothing great ever happens by working alone. Lean on a community whenever you can and welcome in the unexpected magic.

Any leaders and mentors who let you fail once upon a time? Share your early experiences of failure and tag a great leader who gave you the luxury to try, and fail, and try again.


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