Here is a great insight form our partner Mike Dermer, the founder of The Lonely Entrepreneur.

Doing Everything Yourself Isn’t Dedication—It’s Bad Leadership!

Most entrepreneurs feel that they have to do everything. We feel that we are the only ones who know exactly how to get things done. This is a telltale sign of bad leadership. Of course you know more about your business than anyone. You live and breathe it. In the beginning, every activity probably could be done more effectively by you. You probably also feel that only you will provide the necessary attention to detail. This may all be true, especially in the early stages of your business. If you are lucky enough to have a team, you say to yourself, “It will take me much longer to teach someone to do this than to do it myself.” This starts with one issue, but then becomes the mantra for all issues which equals bad leadership.

“One of the most damaging perspectives you can have is believing there’s no one out there who can get the job done.”

One of the most damaging perspectives you can have is believing there’s no one out there who can get the job done. We know that in early stages of your company with limited resources you will get frustrated because things are not getting done to your standards. Here are the negative implications of that mindset:

  • You Stunt Growth. You become the bottleneck. It is impossible for a business to gain any momentum when everything waits for you. You see your passion, dedication and attention to detail as a huge plus. Others see it as detrimental to the growth of the business.
  • Employees, Investors and Customers Question Your Leadership. When sophisticated individuals hear “I’m the only one that can do this,” they question your ability to lead the company. At early stages of the business, many people you are interacting with are putting you in one of two buckets:
    • Passionate entrepreneur that can’t ultimately lead the business.
    • Entrepreneur that understands how businesses grow.

When you say, “I’m the only one that can do these things,” people put you in the first category. It is not that they don’t appreciate your passion—it is one of the reasons they want to work with your company. However, these individuals are getting involved with your business because of the potential for growth. When they hear this perspective, investors think, “How are we going to get someone that can run the business going forward?” Employees think, “We won’t grow if he needs to have his hand in everything.” Customers will not see your passion. They will see you as a single point of failure: “What happens if he gets hit by a bus? Does that mean I am left out in the cold?”

  • You Undermine Your Ability to Engage Employees. Senior employees will question whether your management style will give them the authority and accountability to execute, or will they be micromanaged instead. Senior employees don’t want to work in a company that looks like a “solar system”—where you are the sun and everything revolves around you. They want to join a team with a chain of command that allows them to naturally execute in their area of expertise.
  • Your Productivity Suffers. Junior employees will become less productive as they wait for you to weigh in. When you do weigh in, you will likely change what has been done. While an edit may be in order, returning their work with 99 percent of the content in your pen, is discouraging and invalidates both the employee and the mentorship process. If you don’t allow them to make mistakes and learn, they will never grow and improve.
  • Your Business Will Have Significant Risk. While early stage entrepreneurs are almost always indispensable, once you are fortunate enough to have customers, employees, and investors, you have to minimize this risk. What would happen to your employees if you got hit by a bus? What would happen to the money your family invested? What would happen to your investors? Would your customers continue to do business with your company? When everything revolves around you, you create risk for your constituents that they must weigh when doing business with your company. Would customers purchase an Apple product if they thought that when the world tragically lost Steve Jobs their products would no longer work?

When you do too much, you are setting your company up for failure.

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