• Thursday, April 18, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

From micromanagement to macroleadership

From micromanagement to macroleadership

As an entrepreneur, we recently secured funding for a business I co-founded. Speaking to a mentor about expansion plans, he made a crucial point, “You now need to step back; there will be things you will have to let go so that you can focus on the strategic direction, in the interest of the enterprise”.

My mentor’s advice is the difference between growing a business and running it aground (or at best stagnating it). The latter is usually a consequence of micromanagement, while for former is more common with what I have called “macroleadership”.

Micromanagement speaks to excessive supervision and not giving room for staff creativity. I have defined “macroleadership” as inspiring staff to think like business owners. If you can get your team to think like the business owners, then you are in business.

My nieces once spent a day with me at work. When we got home, they declared, “Uncle Akin doesn’t do any work… folks come into his office, he chit chats, makes a few phone calls and sends a few emails – and that’s it”. I laughed so hard but let them know that I was “macroleading”, and those chit chats, phone calls, and a few emails are with competent team members. What appears casual could have profound safety/compliance implications and could cost the business millions of US dollars.

Read also: How to recognise valuable leadership

Here are three (3) things you can do, as a business leader, to appear that you are having chit chats, making casual phone calls and sending a few emails throughout the day:

1. Hire the right person
Brad Smart, an authority in Management Psychology, concluded in his book, Topgrading, that a mis-hired manager who earns USD100,000 would cost the business fifteen times his annual income (i.e., USD1.5m). In some cases, cases up to 27 times staff yearly income. One can only imagine the unquantifiable cost of time spent by leaders to coach, others to rework outcomes & the general drag on the entire organisation.

A mishire punches a financial hole in the organisation and wearies business leaders.

Therefore, experienced senior leaders are hardly in a hurry to fill critical positions. They hire slow because they expect new hires to deliver their roles as they need to then focus on strategic solutions.

“Successful business dominance is a paradox: hold on and become extinct…. let go and experience the growth.”

2. Invest the time to onboard
A recent guest at the Make or Mar Moment, Mark Pattenden, a senior energy leader, who presently leads a multi-billion-dollar plant in Canada, recently explained the importance of onboarding to me. “When a leader joins my team, I invest the time to accelerate organisational acclimatisation. It is key for me that I provide a soft landing for members of my leadership team”.

Mark invests the time, not just for orientation purposes, but to ensure alignment and that leaders are set up for success from day one. A struggling team member requires leadership attention and perhaps micromanagement so business objectives are met. Avoid that by adequately setting team members up.

A recent article I came across in Business News Daily, “What Does Poor Onboarding Really Do to Your Team?” lists woes of poor onboarding, which include low staff morale, lack of trust and missed revenue targets, all of which puts pressure on leaders.

3. Develop robust performance management system
According to a publication, “Performance Management: Concepts & Definitions” by the University of California in Berkeley, robust performance management is akin to an ongoing contract between a leader and staff. It includes clarifying what good looks like recognising progress, providing constant feedback, and reviewing business outcomes. Performance Management often results in some commendation (or promotion) or a warning (or exiting the company).

If you are unclear on the desired outcome, then team members need to be constantly reminded of what to do which is micromanaging. If you are unclear on the consequences of non-delivery, then expect your staff to be surprised at your actions each time you intervene.

I have learnt that robust performance management helps worried leaders give the required room for staff to develop creative solutions to meet business goals.

Many leaders struggle with letting go since being operational got them to where they are. However, leading and growing businesses require a new skill set, a new way of working and a new way of interacting. That is what I have called “the business growth paradox: hold on and be extinct. Let go and grow.”

If there are gaps in any of the three (3) points above, then you need to micromanage to deliver business objectives. The transition, however, it is not too late. Start controlling the narrative. Start your transition today.

About the Author:
Akin Monehin is a thought leader, speaker, business leader & strategist. A 2015 recipient of Choiseul Institut France/Forbes Afrique’s Award of Top 100 African Business Leaders under 40 Years old, he hosts two (2) thought leadership conversations on YouTube, “Make or Mar Moments” and “After 5 at 5”. He is also the host of the podcast, “Pathway to Greatness”. He is privileged to have worked in over 10 countries, including French and Arabic-speaking and leading organisations like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic & Nigeria LNG Ltd. He currently works for an International Oil Company (IOC) and is a business owner.
Views expressed in this article are personal and do not represent the views of any institution he is affiliated to.