We had a management away day recently, which is something I recommend every team does regularly. It is always good to get away from the day-to-day of a busy business to gain perspective and talk honestly without interruptions. I looked around the room at the end of that day and told the others how absolutely I believed in them and what a great job they were all doing. If the worst was to happen and the Number 1 bus took me out as I was crossing the road, then I have no doubt that they would take the business from strength to strength without me.

This was far from the case several years ago when at that point I looked around the room and thought that, except for one individual, I could do all their jobs better than them. The complete opposite is true now – my current team all do what they do ten times better than I could. And this is the key, playing to your strengths. If you are a leader of a business ensure that you are doing what you are good at and more importantly what you enjoy and get other people doing what you are not good at, and what they are good at. Building a management team really is that simple. Of course, it absolutely involves trusting that team, as I discussed last week. Those that are control freaks and want to sign off every decision will not recruit the right other leaders for the business as the right people want responsibility, authority and love the challenge of building their part of the business. 

Our executive management team is 40% male and 60% female, and 40% under 35 and 60% over 35. I believe it is also important to have a balance on your team of genders and ages. If you don’t have that, then the chances are that others in the business will feel alienated from the leadership team as it doesn’t reflect the people in the business. More importantly, an unbalanced leadership team are more likely make the wrong decisions. Masculine and feminine both bring essential leadership qualities to the mix and it is important you have both. The exclusion of women from leadership historically has damaged this planet considerably – for one, there would have been far fewer wars over the years!

I think generally that most modern businesses have realised that the days of the authoritative lone ranger type of leader have gone, or maybe those businesses that operated like this have disappeared. Leadership in growing businesses is definitely team leadership even in relatively small businesses, so look at the team in your business and challenge them if this is not true. If you are a business leader and your team doesn’t have a mix of ages and sexes it is time to change.