Small Shift, BIG Impact

Just this week I’ve talked with three founders who are feeling overwhelmed.  Each tied the overwhelm to decisions made and acted on:

  1. It’s better if I do this myself.
  2. No one else can this better than I can.
  3. Everybody’s stressed.
  4. I’m stronger than __________, so I should do this.

The unintended consequences behind each of these actions varied according to the organization’s mission in the midst of the crisis.  For one owner, it meant that seeking the next round of funding was delayed because all of the necessary financials weren’t ready (not to mention that the slide deck needed to be revamped).

Another business owner felt that delivering quality service was the top priority for customers who were freaking out now that there is little hope of government assistance at this point in time. This founder decided that every customer crisis needed to be handled personally.

The founder talked about the overwhelm, yet refused help when team members asked.  As time went on, those remote workers felt increasingly unimportant to the company as well as isolated.  It took an emotionally charged Zoom call for the owner to recognize the team needed to be utilized and were in danger of disengaging from the company if something wasn’t done fast.

Do you see yourself here?  Calculate the number of times you’ve felt overwhelmed since March, talked about feeling overwhelmed, then chose to do the task yourself instead of delegating, because it was easier, saved time, or you could do it better. 

I invite you to consider that feeling overwhelmed can be a valuable signal.  You may realize on a subconscious level that others can complete the list of tasks that weigh you down, but you like being needed.  You may also be caught up in the need to try and control something in the midst of this VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world.  Choose to resist the temptation to bear down and do it all.  Choose to delegate instead.

Here are just a few of the benefits of delegating:

  1. Every time you empower a team member to act, and take yourself out of the equation, you create value to a prospective buyer of your company.  Every prospective buyer wants to buy a company that runs independently on the founder’s skills.
  2. Give people a reason to re-engage.  Disengaged people suffer from burnout, extreme stress and become inefficient, unproductive people.  Use this crisis to cross train, develop learning and experience goals that add to the employee experience, and use this time to work ON the business, not just IN it.
  3. The owner/founder can uncover the weaknesses, blind spots, and the knowledge gaps of those on the team and within the organization if the owner/founder isn’t micromanaging every function of the company.  This is valuable knowledge.  It can allow you, and the team, to explore each one to fix the trouble spots.  This can help you add value to the company.

Each of the three owners have committed to delegating and empowering their teams in the months to come.  One changed course because of the team confrontation over Zoom.  The team member who was brave enough to speak up was the catalyst for change.

One shifted from a belief that feeling overwhelmed is a sign of incompetency, to the realization that the organization was ready for another growth spurt.  That shift happened in one coaching session.  The coaching session was the catalyst for change.

The last sustained a concussion.  This founder literally couldn’t do all of the things that needed to be done.  Without begin asked, the team stepped up to run the company.  The accident was the catalyst for change.

They can do it.  You can let go.  What will be your catalyst for change?

Wendy Dickinson

About the Author

Wendy Dickinson is the founder of Ascend Coaching Solutions LLC, a coaching firm that specializes in working with business owners and executives who plan to expand their leadership capacity as their business grows.

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