By Tommy Mello, owner of A1 Garage Doors, a $100M+ home service business. Sharing what I’ve learned to help other entrepreneurs scale.
When I spoke to Julian Scadden, the CEO of Nexstar, he asked me this one question: “How are you going to develop leaders?”
He explained, “Tommy, you’ll do amazing things. [But] the one thing that you need to discover is how to build your leadership… How do you build this into each and every person and get them to care as you do?”
I reflected on this and was reminded of what I wrote in an email to my subscribers: Your people and your systems are more important than you are.
What does that mean? As a leader, your job isn’t to manage everything or fix all the problems. Your job is to lead your team and then grow them into leaders.
Many hear this and nod, “That makes sense, Tommy.” But here’s what they do instead.
Unsuccessful leaders have a secret addiction.
They go back to their business… and they still end up firefighting. Day in and day out! And I get it. It’s tough to see problems and not be the one fixing them. It’s frustrating to notice how your employees aren’t doing things “your way.” It’s addictive to solve one problem after another—like one of those whack-a-mole games.
Here’s the reality though:
While you’re busy firefighting, you’re letting your team down. Sure, they might appreciate you in the moment, but everyone loses in the long run—they don’t have your leadership and you don’t have a business that’s growing faster than your competitors.
So, how do you go from firefighting to developing leaders to scale your business?
1. Think like a soccer (or football) coach.
In soccer, you have your starting 11. In football, it’s seven. Whether it’s soccer or football, if a coach doesn’t know who his players are and where they should be, he will lose the game.
This is the same in leadership: You need to have a “map” of all the roles in your business. In other words, an org chart. Once you have the org chart drawn out, do the following three things:
• Define what each role is responsible for
• Set up monthly and weekly goals for each role
• Create a system to keep them accountable (it can be through a CRM, or as simple as running a weekly meeting to review the results.)
This can help give you the clarity to apply my next strategy.
2. Hire the best people for what you’re worst at.
Most leaders are in multiple roles, and this will be painfully obvious with an org chart. And when you’re pulled in multiple directions, you won’t be working on what you’re great at.
The solution? Hire out any roles that you aren’t the best person for. Reviewing the org chart will give you a better idea of who to hire first. I also recommend that you write down the top three things you need to get done each day, and then keep track of what distracted you from them.
3. Hire leaders who can “split the sea” for you.
For less senior positions, it’s OK to hire for attitude and train them. But if you’re hiring a manager, director or C-suite exec, you do not want them learning on your watch. Instead, they should be able to tell you exactly what to do, turn strategy into reality and hold themselves accountable to their KPIs.
For C-level execs, work with a top recruiter who has a track record of hiring A-players. For other roles, turn your employees into your best marketers. Whenever I can, I record the fun moments we have as a team and share them on Facebook. We also give everybody $1,500 if they get an employee to join us.
4. Train your leaders at the top and from the ground up.
I’ve hired many consultants over the years to teach us leadership and other topics. Apart from getting consulting and training, we have also visited thousands of shops in multiple industries to learn their secrets to success. We make each visit an experience that pushes us out of our comfort zone so that we can learn the most from each trip.
At the same time, we train leaders from the ground up with apprenticeships. (We have a flood of people who apply for our apprenticeships because we aim to provide the best training in the industry.)
5. Dream bigger to fit everyone else’s dreams.
Ask yourself these questions: What’s my biggest goal for the business? Who do I have to become as a leader?
Your dream should be big enough to attract the most ambitious, competitive people to come work for you. I’ve been telling my managers, other employees and whoever I come across that we’re going to do $1 billion in five years. (It sounds crazy, but when you break it down, it’s not. More on this in my next article.)
Takeaway: Scale your leadership.
Now that I’ve shared my five strategies to help you develop leaders in your business, let’s zoom out. What my strategies have in common is this: To develop other leaders, develop your own leadership.
In other words, scale your leadership, and you can scale your business. That’s how you get out of firefighting mode and become a lot more productive and successful as a leader!