I have been very fortunate winding up where I currently sit – the President of Advisa. We have 15 employees, all of whom but Penny our office manager, council executives on a daily basis. Like it or not, I have the benefit of all that advice. True, sometimes the chorus sounds more like cacophony than angels singing, but among the noise there are often pure voices that provide the richness and clarity that is music to the ear and sound advice for the soul of the business.
The clearest of those voices often comes from our COO and future CEO Heather Haas. While a big part of my role (as part of our succession planning process) is to prepare her to run the business at least as effectively as I have, the reality is that she is my most effective coach. She makes sure my efforts to guide the direction of our organizational planning leads us to be the confident organization Advisa must be in order to achieve our goals.
Where I need the help the most, and I think this is true of every leader, is self-management. I need help keeping myself from doing that which is natural to do. I want to attack after being attacked – when I would be best served to nod, listen and empathize – waiting for the anger to dissipate. I frequently prefer to work rather than spend time engaging employees – when the latter would best serve the business. I get drawn into traps of my own making that I can’t and won’t see without help.
For better and worse, Heather confronts some of the same issues. We have formed a symbiotic relationship as dual mentors and coaches of each other – helping navigate the waters of managing a business while engaging employees. I don’t think I could do it nearly as fruitfully without her.
But, she’s not the only one. Whether it’s our most senior consultants – John, Todd and Jay; or our most recent additions – Aszure, Dana and BJ; every one of our people has helped me to be better – offering their insight and experience; or the exuberance of their respective youth and enthusiasm.
I benefit from our team’s collective intelligence every day. Those of you that are clients know what I mean. For those of you that aren’t, do you have people you can call on whose critical thought is able to inspire you to create the strategic plan that takes your business to where it needs to go? If not, you should find some. You could even give us a call. You’ll be better for it.