Scale Your Business by Scaling Up Your Leadership

Sales & Growth

When you start your business, you’re the center of everything. As it grows, you hire some people to help you out. As the business grows, the number of helpers you get increases.  

For most businesses, the founder usually continues to be the genius – lynchpin that holds the entire organization together. But as you continue to grow, being the lynchpin becomes too much.  You change from being the genius to being the bottleneck.  

For some organizations, this happens with as little as 5-10 staff, and others get much larger before the system breaks. You can’t truly scale a business until you start shifting from being that genius in the middle to being a leader surrounded by other leaders.


There is a Better Way to Lead That Can Help You Scale Your Business

As a business strategy consultant, there’s a must-read book I recommend to leaders I work with. The book Turn This Ship Around! by L. David Marquet describes a huge transformation in the culture of the Navy from a leader-follower model to a leader-leader model. 

The Navy is an institution with a long history of rigid command and control structures, in which the Captain was always the lynchpin who made all the key decisions. This book tells the true story of how followers can be turned into leaders to contribute to turning the (literal and proverbial) ship around. 

The tendency for the leader to be shouldering all the weight is true in most small businesses, which is why it’s often so difficult and slow to scale. 

So how do you make this crucial shift?


How to Shift From Leader/Follower to Leader/Leader

The concept itself is simple. You want to enable the team around you so they can make appropriate decisions and execute on the mission, goals, or whatever else with as little input from you as possible. You want to leverage their genius instead of managing their actions. The more they think for themselves and take accountability, the less weight is on your shoulders as a leader. Here’s how to make this shift so you can scale your business.


1. Create Clarity

You can’t build a healthy, scalable business without first creating clarity. This is absolutely necessary for decision-making. Your people cannot start to elevate from follower to leader without that clarity, including an understanding of why the business exists, how the company behaves, who is accountable for what, an understanding of the goals and strategy and more.


2. Develop Competence

Simply put, developing competence is making sure your people have the skills and capabilities they need to achieve their goals. When someone starts at the company, there’s some form of training to teach them what to do and how to do it, as well as to familiarize them with the systems, processes, and guardrails the company has in place.

As they develop competence, they create confidence. As a leader, you will feel increasingly confident that they can do what you need them to do. Your job as a leader is to recognize and encourage them so that they too feel more and more confident in their ability to get things done. 

This is a cycle of nurturing confidence and building trust. As a leader, if you want to be able to delegate more, you need to trust that your people can do it and they need to be confident they can get it done. Having both these criteria met creates positive results! 

The more positive results you get, the more accountability and autonomy you can give them, and the more confidence they build. That’s how you elevate your team.

As you pick up momentum in this positive spiral, the best way to continue improving competence switches from training to coaching. You do this by having powerful one-on-one meetings to understand how your employees think and prioritize, hear what roadblocks they are encountering, and so on. 

This is about multiplying their genius and their impact – not about micromanaging! Don’t solve their problems for them or tell them what to do.  Simply ask questions so they can think through what’s needed and come to their own decisions.  

This creates more confidence and more trust, which makes your employee that much more of a leader than a follower. It creates a cycle of continuously leveling up their performance so you can give them more and more accountability and autonomy. Once they are elevated to being a leader, they’ll have the ability to contribute to even more clarity in the organization by helping to develop goals and strategy.


Understanding What Makes a Leader is Crucial to Scale Your Business

When we think about leadership, we often think we must have followers or a fancy title to be a leader. That’s not true. People don’t have to lead others; they can lead themselves. It’s not about being an extroverted person who can command the attention of an audience. And there’s not necessarily any title to be bestowed. In fact, there are plenty of people out there who have leadership titles yet are not effective leaders. 

Leaders are the people who create impact in the organization. 

When Jim Collins talks about getting the right people on the bus, this is what he’s talking about.  Filling your business with A-Players, who live their genius and can take accountability for getting things done.  

Shifting from a leader-follower model to a leader-leader situation enables you to let go of the reins with the confidence that your team will still get the results you need. This creates freedom for the entrepreneur. Couldn’t we all use a bit more of that? 

Ready to level up your leadership and create other leaders? Get in touch and let’s talk.  

Mike Knapp


Mike has been helping businesses achieve their goals for more than 20 years. He believes there is a better way for business owners and leaders to build their businesses and achieve their big goals. As a Gravitas Impact Premium coach, he leverages the 7 Attributes of Agile Growth™ to simplify the art of strategy and discipline of execution.

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