The more talents and skills you have the more likely you are to take something from nothing to up and running. Talented people who can learn quickly, adapt, and grow are the heart and soul of start-ups. But unless you learn to let go of most of those things, the organization you serve will not be able to grow beyond your incompetence level. Yes, incompetence.
No matter how talented you are, you cannot be an expert on all the skills that your business or non profit need to grow and thrive. The skill set that got the organization from ideation to reality are not the same skills that will take it to the next level of growth. Early in my career as a business leader, I used to spend hours learning how to use software so I could design marketing pieces or edit videos. I had to come to grips with the fact that, regardless of how much I enjoyed the design process, I should not be doing it for the sake of the organization.
Over the years, I had to let go of several other tasks in order to allow the organization to continue to thrive. Last year, I gave the presidency of The A Group to Shannon Litton, our then Executive VP of marketing. It was the right call. Shannon is much better at developing business processes than I’ll ever be. We have seen our best year yet because of her leadership.
The blessing of the talents can quickly become a curse of the talents when you hold on too closely to tasks and lose sight of the overall organizational health. Personally, I had to make a shift in thinking: I had to get my satisfaction from the overall success of my business as opposed to the quality of my own work. For those of us who equate productivity with success, giving up control and the accolades that come from accomplishing the tangible is a tough thing to do.
But giving up control is not an option for growth. It’s essential.
You might be a talented person, a life-long learner, and an overall amazing individual, but you cannot be the best at everything–no matter what your mother has told you. Unless you learn to define success as reaching the organization’s goals instead of accomplishing tasks, you will go from being seen as the organization’s builder to its choker, where you thwart growth on the anvil of your own incompetence.
Have you ever been in a situation where someone strangled growth?