“You can have control, or you can have growth, but you can’t have both.”
Craig Groeschel

Is this quote accurate for you? Let’s find out.

Plot yourself on this line when it comes to your current leadership style. Don’t be shy. Be honest and then show it to a trusted member of your team to see if you are telling the truth.

Where did you plot yourself? Inside your mind, you wanted to be on the growth side of the continuum right? How come?

In a group of ten owners and CEOs at an Acumen council, eight were in the middle or trending left towards control. Only one leader was to the far right in growth mode.

Now I know all these leaders, and we get into deep talks on what, who, and how to run and engage in their business. Why so many people towards control?

1.Biggest Challenge

When asked this question, the “control” group were thinking about one area of the company: the weakest part. It was interesting to note that all the examples were from problems and challenges they are solving.  What is the most challenging part of your business currently? Are your hands on or hands off in this area? Knowing where to focus and spend more time is a good thing. Just be careful to rely on the experts to solve the issue while you keep tabs on it and coach or mentor when needed.

2. Focus on Your Strengths

Another theme was the more experienced in a specific area of the business a leader was, the more control they took. Coming up through the sales ranks? Then sales had a bigger magnifying glass on it than say operations or finance. Where does your expertise lie? The more experience you have in a specific category, the less likely you are to delegate authority and the more likely you are to delegate tasks. You know what to do, and it’s easy to tell others to execute on it. This is your strength and where you can add the most value and impact. But, you need to be careful. Don’t reach down into the next job description and do the tactical work “because it’s easier if I just do it myself.” You can steer the ship without physically turning the wheel.

3. Understand your Current Business lifecycle

Where are you in your business lifecycle?

There are times (especially in early stages, startup, ramp up) where more control is needed as you don’t have all the right players on the bus to delegate authority and get the work done. There are also times of war in your business when cash flow is tight, or you have a giant project going out the door. You need to have a more hands-on approach in these times.

On the opposite of the spectrum, as your business evolves you will become more irrelevant to the success when it comes to doing the work versus coaching your team. Perhaps you heard how much everyone got done while you were away on vacation which gives you a glimpse into how your role is changing and your team needs more authority.

Control isn’t a bad thing in leadership if you use it wisely. Growth isn’t the only place you need to focus on either. It’s a blended approach based upon your current challenges, experience, and where you are in the business lifecycle.

Challenge: Have this conversation with your executive team. Draw the control/growth continuum and talk through these three and any other factors to gain clarity on your leadership mindset and how and where to wisely use your inner control freak.

Dan Cooper
Post by Dan Cooper
April 12, 2019
Dan Cooper co-founded ej4, a video-based online training company, in 2003, and was its CEO until selling in 2012. During his time with ej4, he grew the company from a startup to a nationally-recognized firm, serving clients including Pepsi-Cola, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Honeywell, Monsanto and Syngenta. Channel partners included SAP and Oracle. As of the 2012, ej4 was serving 1,000+ customers, delivering millions of program views, was highly profitable and debt-free. Today, he is the CEO of Acumen, a mastermind community platform built for CEOs and Owners of strong and growing companies. He and his wife, Ali, have three children and attend Cure of Ars church in Leawood, KS. Dan enjoys running, all things soccer — coaching, playing and watching —and burning all types of meat on the backyard barbecue grill.