Biz Doc: It Has Come To This

HEY! That’s My Pie!

April 2015

PieChartIf your time was a pie chart, how much do you serve to others vs. keep for yourselves?  

Good question, eh?

The fact is that founders and CEOs are notorious for not only serving up too much of their pie to others but allowing others to steal their pie.

This is a question I address in engagements with founder CEOs.  Regardless of the company, sector or unique skills of the founder CEO, the stories are remarkably consistent:

“Once upon a time I had a vision for the company and dedicated myself to sector relationships / product / whatever (pick one) and this consumed something close to 70% (the typical answer) of my time. We raised money, hired key staff and drove forward.  Now, a couple years later as we cross $5M / $10M / $25M (read: real revenue) I found myself miserable – trapped IN my company vs. working ON my company.  I want and NEED to get back to driving value by staying in my zone like I was on day-1…  Please help liberate me from the other stuff!!”

After some questioning and prodding followed by honest introspection on the part of the founder CEO, the truth comes out: the CEO actually gave away his/her time or allowed it to be taken, it was NOT stolen.  Along the way, many issues are revealed:

  • Hired a Resume – into a key Sr. Mgmt position without examining true management capabilities.
  • Allowed Upward Delegation – particularly critical problems in product, operations or sales.
  • Feared Losing an Executive – and permitted performance issues instead of acting decisively.
  • Refused to Delegate – holding on to issues that took time away from value-driving efforts.
  • Micromanaged Delegated Issues – because the CEO had a previous aptitude in the area.
  • And on and on and on…

When we cross this bridge and put the truth on the table, creating a plan is remarkably straightforward.  This usually consists of a “before and after” org chart and list of 5 – 10 specific actions that the CEO will make in the next 30-60 days including hiring, firing, process modifications and personal behavior changes.

Executing that plan is anything but straightforward because humans are not robots and necessary discussions require brutal honesty and the conviction to make tough decisions and hold such discussions in the first place.  With a coach and accountability, however, the CEO can pull it off and get back to a pie chart where 51% of their time is dedicated to the areas where the CEO uniquely excels and adds enterprise value.  In the end, the organization and CEO are BOTH re-energized.

It’s not only unselfish to keep more of the the “time pie” to yourself, it forces your direct reports (read: well-paid Sr. Managers) to do their jobs and allows you to stay in whatever “your zone” is and drive the valuation of your company.

Is it time to stop serving it up and get back to driving value?


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