Updated: Nov 17, 2022
"Sorry (insert your name here)... We're letting you go."
Every CEO's worst nightmare is being removed by the board. So how exactly do you avoid losing control in your organization so you don't end up getting the boot?
1. Get real feedback
Jim Collins talks about the idea of facing the brutal facts of reality in his book Good to Great as part of the Stockdale Paradox.
Leaders lose control overnight when they've ignored the warning signs for days, weeks, months and even years.
The problem? The more responsibility and authority you have as a leader, the more control you have over the feedback you receive.
If you want to avoid losing control, then find ways to get anonymous clear honest feedback from all levels of your organization about everything... including YOU!
2. Build a team of smarter people than you
Leaders lose control when they feel threatened by the people around them.
This sows mistrust and discord. Instead, build a team of people smarter than you.
3. Overcommunicate crystal clear intent
Leaders lose control when they pull their hair out because the organization is careening in one direction they never intended.
Don't get pulled into the weeds, but do overcommunicate the crystal clear intent and direction you have for the organization.
Articulate what that direction is and what your values are.
And repeat yourself again, and again, and again.
4. Pick small battles
Leaders lose control when there are massive battles for control in the organization or even between the CEO and the board.
Massive battles aren't avoided by ignoring. They're only avoided by dealing with issues when they're small.
This week, go out to the battlefield and embrace some small battles.
Uncomfortable? Awkward? Frustrating?
Better than a massive battle with humongous fallout? You bet.
5. Get out of the way
Last of all, leaders lose control often when they need to be removed.
You only need to be removed when you're getting in the way. If you can do the first four steps, then paradoxically, the key to avoid losing control is to get out of the way of your great people and let them do things you never dreamed possible.
P.S. Little bonus tip: when your team has a big loss, take it yourself publicly. Save your team's face by taking the bullet. Then, when you have a massive win, throw as much of the reward and limelight onto your team members. This is a behaviour that is the definition of 'having my back'. Make sure you're a leader who people talk about as, "Wow, I always know they have my back."