Forget about the trenches and ruin your team

One of the things I look forward to as I hire people and start building a bit of a team is not being in the trenches daily. A good business owner should be stepping back to work on the business. That’s how you’re going to keep all those peope employed.

There is some danger in stepping totally away from the day-to-day operations though.

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark still answers support emails today (sometimes within minutes) – Rework

Do you still understand?

Back in my high school years I ran a live performance theater. I was a registered pyrotechnician and had experiences building sets, with lights and sound and running all types of electrical equipment.

Then I was put in charge for a few years of the whole show. We traveled around Ontario competing in drama festivals and sold out shows (and added shows) in our town.

It was fun and helped keep me out of a bunch of trouble in high school, but I was a bad leader.

When I was put in charge I mostly stepped back to giving orders, especially when it came to clean up.

I’d walk around pointing things out for people to do, while rarely bending down to do it myself. I mean, I was in charge, why should I do that?

One day it came to a head and my assistant stage manager started yelling at me. I mean spittle flying profanity laced screaming. At the time I thought that he was simply wrong to treat me that way, I mean I was in charge and had been for 2 years at that point. You don’t treat someone in charge that way.

Now I look back and see that I was too proud to do many of the tasks that needed to get done and that pissed people off.

With every able-bodied man present, including VPs, EVPs, CFOs, and the CEO, the work only took about thirty minutes. Yes, you read that right. I was in the truck helping unload and load. I never thought it was a big deal, but one day a new team member wrote me a long e-mail afterward, saying he had never worked in a place where the boss was a real leader. He had been with us less than two weeks and looked up in the truck and realized that the guy handing him boxes was the owner and CEO. After having that experience, the guy will find it hard to cop an attitude about anything he is ever asked to do while he works on my team. The work I did that day took me just thirty minutes, but for years now it has had an impact on my relationship with my team. – EntreLeadership

As you scale your team, make sure that you’re not too proud to get back into those trenches as needed. No you shouldn’t be in them daily, but when things need lifting, go lift.

A few times a year when some code needs to be written, jump in and write it.

Stay in touch with the trenches and your customers and really be a good leader.

photo credit: ✠ drakegoodman ✠ via photopin cc

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