Follow the Leaders
Is your team empowered to step up in a crisis?
Is it ready to take charge on a moment’s notice?
Is it set up to advance daily business when your chair is unexpectedly empty?
Is it really?
As a leader, I had the opportunity to find out for myself when I got COVID and was forced to completely shut down. Immediately. No transition meetings. No phone calls. No emails. Full stop. One moment I was engaged, available, responsive, involved. And the next, not at all. It was a transformational moment for me, for the business and for our team.
Throughout my experience, I truly learned what it really means to empower a team to continue advancing the business without one of its leaders. Fortunately for Fahrenheit, our team didn’t miss a beat when I went off the grid. And while it feels lucky, luck really had nothing to do with it. Fortunately, I have a great partner and Co-CEO, Rich Reinecke. Many organizations do not have that luxury.
As I’ve had a chance to reflect on the experience, I’ve realized the careful cultivation of 4 key factors proved essential to our success. And if your team shows up to the office one day to find an unexpectedly empty chair in your office, the 4 factors will also prove essential to yours.
What can you learn from us about empowering your team to step up in a crisis? When the chips were down, the team at Fahrenheit was able to rise to the occasion because of 4 specific factors we already had in place. In order to ensure your team is ready to continue advancing the business without you, these 4 key factors are absolutely mission critical to empowering your team to step up in a crisis — COVID or otherwise.
Question To Ask: Have I created roles critical to running and growing the business?
Since Fahrenheit was launched in 2009 with two co-founders and one employee, we have been fortunate to experience exponential growth. At our 10-year anniversary, a natural reflection point for businesses, we took a deep dive into how best to continue to invest and grow. We embarked on a strategic journey to identify the roles that would support our growth and allow us to continue scaling the business. We created the positions, defined their responsibilities, and hired the right people to do the work (learn more about that in #2). Each area of the business critical to our success has its own champion, and that champion knows what needs to be done.
The benefit: When each team member understands what they’re responsible for, their focus is clear — whether someone is steering the ship or not. And, if I may mix metaphors, because we’ve got all the bases covered with specific key roles, we have no gaps in our daily operations.
Question to Ask: Do I have the right people in place to get the job done?
As Jim Collins tells us in his legendary leadership book Good to Great, great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus — and in the right seats — to move forward. At Fahrenheit, we identified the right seats as part of our strategic assessment and planning (detailed in #1 above). For us, the “right” people for those seats are highly capable, experienced, hands-on self-starters with high levels of personal accountability. Our core values and the “why” that defines our culture also help us define the right people for Fahrenheit. In fact, we incorporate our core values into everything we do, including hanging them prominently in our office space.
The benefit: The Fahrenheit team was ready to roll up their sleeves and step in when I stepped out because that’s core to who they are and how they operate every day. Not a single person on our team needs their hand held to get their job done.
Question to Ask: Does my team have the freedom to make mistakes?
The entrepreneurial mindset is built on speed and failure. Yes, failure. Not only moving fast to embrace new opportunities and solve challenges, but failing fast — and learning fast. The only way to learn from failure is to make mistakes. The entrepreneurial mindset is one of our core values for a reason. Our team is empowered to make mistakes within our intentional culture of growth and improvement. We say it, we live it, and, most importantly, we support it with actions as well as words. We have long said Fahrenheit is one experiment after another!
The benefit: A supportive environment is freeing, and our team has that freedom every day. When there is no paralysis from fear of making the wrong decision, your team will make decisions — on their own, without input. And those decisions will take the company forward.
Question to Ask: Is my team in it to win it — together?
At Fahrenheit, we’ve worked hard to create a culture that embraces and prioritizes the idea of community. It may sound hokey, but we’re truly “all for one and one for all.” It’s another example of living our core values — in this case Community specifically, as well as Accountability, which is the idea that we keep our promises to one another.
The benefit: When people are part of a team, they will step up and act for the good of the team as a whole. No one wants to be the weak link who lets the team down.
I hope you never have to find out whether your team is ready to continue advancing your business in your absence. But if you do, and you’ve prepared by putting these 4 factors in place, you can do so with the confidence that your team is truly empowered to step up in a crisis.
Despite my leadership purpose “To consistently seek to understand and empower,” I’ll confess I’m still a work in progress. But my COVID experience had the surprise — and welcome — benefit of accelerating my development in that area. I learned, because I had to, what true empowerment is, and I look forward to being more purposeful in that endeavor going forward.
If you’d also like to grow in that area, there’s no better place to start than setting up your team for success by putting these 4 factors in place. Because everyday empowerment will strengthen your business, even when it’s “just” business as usual.
To find out how Fahrenheit can help you empower your team to step up in a crisis, or about how we can accelerate your progress and help you overcome challenges to find the straightest path forward, contact us today to learn more about what our team of seasoned, C-level executives and consultants can do for you.
Overall I was fortunate my COVID symptoms were primarily severe fatigue and headaches. Several months after my diagnosis I am happy to report I’m doing very well, though I still continue to battle occasional periods of fatigue. I am truly blessed by the support of my family and my Fahrenheit family.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Keith Middleton is a co-managing partner and co-founder of Fahrenheit Advisors. He oversees the delivery of the firm’s consulting and fractional financial management services, as well as risk management and operations. He is a member of Fahrenheit’s Leadership Team. A seasoned corporate finance executive, Keith’s expertise in organizational strategy and a newfound passion for entrepreneurism has helped Fahrenheit expand across multiple service lines and geographies.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Content provided by Fahrenheit Advisors. Fahrenheit Advisors is a Sponsor of Virginia Council of CEOs. This post was originally posted here.