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Knowledge = Not Always Power! Why You Don’t Need To Know Every Inch Of Your Business To Lead It Effectively

We can argue until we're blue in the face as to what makes a business function at its most effective. You could argue that it's to do with the product, the employees, or it all comes from you. If you believe yourself to be the key ingredient of an effective business, what do you think you need in spades to ensure that the company is successful? Is it the ability to lead, or is it about knowing, in finite detail, every inch of your business? On the face of it, you would argue that the best leaders need to know every single thing about a company, but while this may be the case during the early years of a start-up, or a small business with a handful of employees, as the business gets bigger, this isn't as achievable. So do you feel that you need to know every single component of your company to make it successful?  

The Right Person For The Right Task

The business leader that proclaims they know every movement of the company can appear to be a good leader, or they can appear to be someone who doesn't want to relinquish control. The power of delegation is essential in any business leader because this highlights their ability to trust employees with more tasks. The right person for the right task is essential because each piece of the puzzle works to keep the whole engine moving. Those leaders that feel they have to exert authority over every little decision and the employees have to come to them for permission for every small query just doesn't work. This is what delegating is for, and if you are starting a small company, where it is just a handful of you, and you feel you have to give permission for every single aspect, it's time to start letting this go. Sure, you may feel that you need to know every little detail because you care, but on the other hand, if no other member of staff can move without your say so, you may find yourself with a mutiny on your hands. Your employees won't feel fulfilled, but they won't be happy to stay either. By having the right person for the right job, especially when it comes to aspects of the business you don't know everything about, this means you are, very simply, putting trust in your employees. This is going to improve the culture overall.

Outsourcing As A Means To Fill The Knowledge Gaps

As we learn more about our failures as leaders, and as a business, we can soon realize that outsourcing is one of the most necessary means to keep us up to speed. Regardless of your stance on outsourcing, it's necessary as a means to an end, but also as a means to fill the gaps in your knowledge. If you work in a specialized area of ceramics, polymers, or metals and alloys, do you need to know about the speed of laser cutting, or is this something that can be outsourced to another technology specialist that is able to complete the task for you? As a leader, there is a difference between exercising control and nurturing a business. Control can imply a grip that is too tight. And from this, that inability to admit that we need help can override getting what is essential for the business right now. Outsourcing isn't just a way to get help, but it's a valuable exercise in learning how our business can benefit from an outside perspective. As we get people on board that have the skills we don't, we can use this outside perspective as a way to understand processes that can be improved. It could be in relation to a complex aspect of the business or it could be as simple as improving efficiency. Outsourcing is the magnifying glass we can take to our business so we better understand the gaps in our knowledge we wouldn't have considered before.

What Your Overriding Goal Is…

Knowledge of every single aspect of your business isn't essential. But, what you need to remember is that your overriding goal as the leader is to see the big picture. To clarify, the bigger picture doesn't require you to know every single inch of your company. This is why we have people on board to do aspects of the business for us. It's not our duty to have finite knowledge of every single component, but what we need to understand is how each piece of the puzzle works together. When you look at the great leaders, the one skill that they have complete mastery over is their communication with others. This is something that every leader should look to develop over time. If you do not have that tangible skill in which to communicate with all types of worker, is this because you're holding onto the business too tightly? If so, it's time to look at the bigger picture and see if you are one of the main reasons your business isn't progressing. This can be a wake-up call, but if you are looking to improve your company, you can't view yourself as a separate entity to the business. After all, you have the final say, but you don't do every single duty. This is why big picture thinking gives you the advantage.

You don't need to know every single part of your business to lead it effectively. If this was the case, it would be you, and you alone. The best solopreneurs can feel that they need a handle on every part of their investment, but if they are to effectively tackle each task, they're going to have to get help eventually. Yes, it is a cliche: there is no “I” in “team”, but it's worth reiterating. If we feel we need to know every single component of the business so that we can ensure its efficacy we have to take a long look in the mirror and see if we are exerting too much control. In which case, we could be stifling our business’ progress.

About the author, Mark

Mark Asquith is a serial entrepreneur who has built globally successful design, marketing, software and digital businesses since he quit his real job in 2005.

A passionate podcaster, global keynote speaker and helpful bloke, Mark is the co-founder of Podcast Websites and the creator of Excellence Expected. He has a terribly embarrassing beard.

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