Steven Cesare, Ph.D.
A business owner from Virginia called me the day to talk about leadership, accountability, and roles and responsibilities. Based upon the organizational chart, the company has a typical hierarchical structure, with the Operations Manager overseeing field activities, the Office Manager coordinating administrative tasks, and a Sales Manager supervising marketing, social media, and sales duties.
However, the owner has developed a time management problem due to his daily routine of being “too hands-on” when it comes to his management team’s performance, usurping their decisions, meddling in their processes, and eroding their leadership capital with their subordinates.
Who would you listen to: Your supervisor or the owner?
We all know the answer. We all have been there.
I know the owner cares. I know the owner is a nice person. I know the owner respects his managers.
We all know the owner is the problem.
To initiate a development plan, I explained the 75/25 split to the owner. In general, the owner, CEO, or Company President should spend approximately 75% of his/her time addressing external issues beyond the boundaries of the company, with the remaining 25% of his/her time spent on issues internal to the company. By definition, the owner is the leader, the visionary, the strategist. Focusing on internal, operational, or administrative tasks is not leading, developing a vision, or being strategic. That is called management. Managers manage; the person at the top of the organizational chart is not a manager.
By way of metaphor, the owner is driving the car with the primary goal of looking forward through the windshield charting the optimal path toward the desired destination. There is only one driver. If the driver is preoccupied with the stereo system, cell phone apps, or other distractions in the car, only bad things will happen. The driver must stay focused on the road, the path, and the future location of the car.
Executives must devote at least 75% of their attention onto issues like: meeting with prospective clients, talking with vendors, becoming involved in local organizations, interviewing key managerial candidates, having lunch with valuable clients, attending conferences and workshops, driving the local community to assess changes, growth, and opportunities, meeting with the accountant, lawyer, or consultants, working with a professional coach, networking, reading, thinking, and planning. At one of my previous positions in the Green Industry, the General Manager spent the first hour of his day, every day, reading the local newspaper to stay abreast of community events, beyond the walls of company headquarters. That’s the line of sight the driver of the car must focus on; not what is in the glove compartment, trunk, or backseat.
The remaining 25% of an executive’s time should address internal issues like conducting weekly one-on-one meetings with key staff, coaching managers toward goal achievement, tracking results, driving accountability, role modeling the company culture, being in the yard for departure and arrival two days a week, soliciting recommendations from staff to improve internal processes, conducting quarterly rewards and recognition meetings, and even, handing out paychecks to field employees.
By contrast, managers should have a 25/75 split; addressing external boundary spanning topics 25% of their time, while managing internal departmental execution 75% of their time. That complementary coverage with the executive’s priorities ensures everything gets done without redundancy, promotes management development, eliminates functional compression (i.e., the owner doing the manager’s job), and maximizes labor efficiency and communication effectiveness.
By the way, do you know the best way to know your company’s desired destination six months from now? Start looking through the windshield.
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