One of the constant strictures that we hear from the world class speakers at my Vistage CEO and Key Executive peer group meetings is the need to appoint or recruit people who are manifestly better than we are.
After that we give them the freedom to get on with it and we keep out of the way. That is, of course, a vastly simplified way to look at what is a very important subject.
It can be a sensitive subject especially if the leader is a hired gun rather than an owner manager of the business. Bring better people in? They might be looked upon as threat although that is rarely voiced.
Curiously if we examine the situation in detail it usually transpires that the members of the team are better at their job than the leader and there is nothing there to be disregarded.
Most leaders rise to their position through a functional route and that can cause issues if it is not controlled. For example if the leader has come up through the finance function then there can be a tendency to take too much of an operational role by default. It is called interference and it doesn’t normally contribute much to morale.
There is always a temptation to take the “leave it to me, I’ll do it” route and that diving in to solve a problem that is probably easily done by the incumbent can cause real issues in the team.
Whatever training courses he/she may have been on it normally comes down to management perhaps in an advanced stage but this does not necessarily say what the leader is there to accomplish.
It is relatively simple to define the role of the functional leader. They need to have a good knowledge of the technology of their function and an ability to enthuse and encourage the people on the team as well as ensuring that the function delivers results that are appropriate to the needs of the business.
In principle all matters operational should be dropped from the definition of the leader’s role. Functional heads of departments are there to satisfy that need. There is an old saying, is there not, about not keeping a dog and barking.
However there can be pain for the leader who has to relinquish the results of all the years of experience and knowledge to pass them on to someone in the team.
That, of course, becomes a vital part of the role of the leader; to coach and mentor the team members and to draw on those years of experience in order to turn them into expertise.
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