Earlier this week I had a chat with a friend who was lamenting over a common trend that he noticed about Gen Y CEOs. The conversation went something like this:

best friend:  I have found one flaw in gen-y ceos
 me:  whats that?
best friend:  it ranges from either lack of professionalism to the way they value their customers
gen-ys move and do so much, they don’t  [follow up with] their core customer base
they think their invincible so they assume they can get customers back once they lose them
idk maybe that is not an accurate assessment, just what i observe so far
idk its like they are so focused on the next, they did not do first thing well…which is customer service.
or planning.
I told him that he gave me an “ah ha!” moment and also my next blog idea! (Thank’s Cam!)

Here’s the problem with leadership, not just Gen-Y leadership: It’s possible for us to have our hands in too many projects and expect to lord over so many functions, that in trying to be good at everything, we falter at everything or most things.

I know this from experience. When you set out as a solopreneur, you learn very quickly that there are a lot of hats to be worn. Service Provider, Web Designer, Business Developer, Salesman, etc. etc.. you get the idea.  And the reality of it all is that none of us are  great enough at everything to do everything well. Even if we are, we only have a finite amount of time in the day to accomplish goals so some things go undone. In the same way that a fast food restaurant would never work if there’s one person doing it all, neither will your business, department or team. Imagine if the Owner of the restaurant thought it was his job to always cook the fries, flip the burgers, wash the tables and greet the customers. There’d be a significant gap somewhere in the leadership department and she or he would probably just be getting in the way.

So I ask you, who’s cooking your fries?

Leaders must lead. Plain and simple. If you are a leader or business owner and you are not empowering your team members to accomplish things that are well within their control, capability and job description then you are not leading, you are hoarding. Task hoarding is never good. Trust someone else to handle portions of your business that take you away from leadership and vision casting. That includes cooking the fries.

If you’re cooking the fries, you’re not leading.  One of my mentors broke down a great formula for me. Of the 100% of things that you currently do, 85% of it can be taught to someone with minimal training, 10% of it can be taught with a lot of training and 5% of it consists of things only you can do. Unless your fry recipe is so secret that no one else can know it – or, unless your administrative and day-to-day operations are so secret and can only be done one way- then you don’t need to be doing it. Understand the value of your time and ask yourself “Is this the best use of my time to grow and lead my business?” If it’s not then you’re probably overdue for a cook or too.

Respect your fry cook. So you’ve finally decided to hand off some of the administrative tasks to someone else? Don’t make the mistake of thinking that task is “less” important than any of the 5% that you’re now free to focus on. Remember that your hands are free only because of their willingness to take on the assignment and without them, you’d be at a loss. It’s not good business for the same person who’s making the fries to be planning the menu and greeting customers. Spread the work and spread the wealth. Treat all of your team members with respect and your efforts will soar!

Leadership Takeaway: Business is just like life, you can only look good wearing one hat at a time. Learn to grow your team or automate processes that require a great use of your time. (Ask me how.)

HR Takeaway: Employees at all levels must be respected and adequately compensated for their contributions to your organization. If hefty direct compensation is not something you can offer your staff, consider creative alternatives that help boost morale and increase retention (Ask me how.)

Professional Development Takeaway: Recognize the signs of a good leader. Are you motivated and empowered to carry out assigned tasks? Are you given room to advance in your career? Does the CEO or Upper Management have to sign off on everything? These are signs that you are working for a task hoarder. Learn how to thrive in spite of these conditions or network to find other career opportunities. (Ask me how.)