No one is indispensable – Mark MacLeod

November 17, 2020 - Mark MacLeod

No one is indispensable

One of the very first things I do in a new coaching relationship is get the CEO’s assessment of his or her leadership team. Building the best possible senior team is the single most scalable thing a CEO can do to grow the business. The right team will give the CEO massive leverage. The wrong team will hold the CEO back.

More often that not, I find CEOs tolerating good (vs. great) or worse leaders because they feel they can’t remove them.

Whether it’s a technical leader who knows the entire codebase or a leader who recruited a large part of your team, and you worry about losing them should that leader go, you cannot allow yourself to be held ransom by a leader that you are tolerating. If you want to achieve great things with your company there is only room at the table for great leaders. It’s that simple.

The challenge in leading a high growth company is that, as a leader, you must grow faster than your company in order to remain relevant and ahead of its needs. Not everyone can keep up this pace. Thus, a leader who was once great, may no longer be.

This isn’t their fault. No one is to blame. It is what it is.

I found consistently over the years when I was operating that when I removed good leaders to make way for great ones it was a no-regret move for all involved. In most cases the leader knew that his or her performance was not world class. The team under that leader felt it as well.

Removing the leader sent a clear message to the whole company about how high the expectations are for leaders. The removed leader almost universally moved onto a new role and context where they could thrive.

Don’t settle. Don’t compromise. Don’t tolerate. If a leader in your org cannot be great, remove them. You are doing them, their team and your company a favour.

Questions to consider

Looking at my leadership team, are there any leaders there who are good, not great?

Am I afraid about making changes or removing any of our leaders?

If so, what is behind that fear? What exactly am I afraid of?

Examine that fear. What is the worst case scenario? What else could happen? i.e. What is the best case scenario?

What benefits do I believe the company and team would experience by replacing that leader with a better one?

What do I need to do with and for my leaders to enable them to grow faster than our business?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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