While the people you hire can often wear one hat (maybe the marketing hat or the finance hat), the reality is that if you’re the person at the top of your business or organization, you don’t have that luxury.
For example, if you came up through the sales or marketing function, chances are you focus your time and energy on sales and marketing activities (which isn’t a bad thing, by the way). However, if you’re not really paying attention to (and good at) managing the money, chances are you’ll be out of business.
Or if you’re really good at managing and executing projects, chances are you’ll focus your time and energy on the management part of your business (again, not a bad thing). However, if the market has changed and your strategy is outdated, no matter how efficient you are and no matter how well your people execute, chances are you’ll be in trouble.
Likewise, if you came up through the money side of the business (maybe you were a CFO or an accountant), chances are you’re probably getting a daily cash report, reducing your receivables, and diligently decreasing your cash conversion cycle (so that the time between your company laying out cash and having that cash returned to you is shrinking). However, if you’re not really great at casting vision, building teams, recruiting top talent and inspiring that talent to produce great results, then you’re also going to be in trouble.
In other words, when you start or lead a business or organization, you don’t have the option of NOT wearing multiple hats. You don’t have the option of saying, “I’m not good at _________, so I’m not going to do that” Nor do you have the option of just thinking, “I’ll hire someone to do that.”
Why? Because at the end of the day, you’re responsible for your business (or organization). You can hire people to handle certain tasks and functions (for ex. creating a marketing plan or leading a strategic planning process or producing financial reports). But, as the leader of your business or organization, you’re still responsible.
Unfortunately, what I frequently observe from leaders is their willingness to abdicate their responsibility to someone else (either someone they’ve hired or someone they’ve outsourced to) because they don’t feel competent at some key area of executive attention. I like to call this the McKinsey Effect. If a leader hires McKinsey (the consulting company) and the results don’t come in, the leader will say, “Not my fault. I hired the best and they didn’t have the right strategy.”
Sounds a lot like Adam in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3, doesn’t it? “Adam, have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” “Uh, it was the woman you gave me, she gave me some fruit from the tree … and I ate it.” Right? The blame game (and the willingness to abdicate responsibility) has been around for a long time, hasn’t it?
But, if you’re the leader, you’re the one who’s ultimately responsible for the whole. If you let your marketing person run whatever campaigns they chose to run (and you’re not coaching them or holding them accountable), and they’re not getting the results you want, who’s responsible for that? Or if your CFO is given free reign to manage the money as they see fit, and you end up with a cash flow problem, who’s responsible for that?
That’s why this blog site—and, in fact, my whole business—is organized the way it is around what I call The Five Key Areas of Executive Attention (strategy, leadership, management, marketing and money). As the leader, you need to wear all five hats every week. In fact, my recommendation is that every week you need to ask yourself the following five questions.
1. Strategy: What do I/we need to do this week to better generate and select ideas that can drive significant growth?
2. Leadership: What do I/we need to do this week to better assemble, motivate and leverage the talented group of individuals in my company toward our common purpose?
3. Management: What do I/we need to do this week to ensure better alignment, while raising our level of execution excellence?
4. Marketing: What do I/we need to do this week to ratchet up customer attraction, retention and value?
5. Money: What do I/we need to do this week to make better well-reasoned financial decisions that can both fuel and sustain growth?
If you simply ask and answer those five questions each week so that you’re focused on wearing all five hats (and not just one or two), you’ll end up building a bigger, better, faster and more profitable business (or organization).
So, how are you doing? Are you wearing all five hats every week? If not, which ones aren’t you? Why? What’s keeping you from wearing that hat (or those hats)?
If you want to build a healthy and fast growing business or organization, then you’ve got to wear all five hats. If you’re not very competent in one or more of them, then learn. You don’t have to be the best at something, you just need to be competent at that area. How else can you lead your marketing and sales people or your financial people or your managers, if you don’t know their areas well?
Remember, at the end of the day, you’re responsible for the whole. While you can hire a marketing director, you’re still the Marketer-in-Chief. Or you can hire a CFO or accounting firm, but you’re still responsible for the money management of your company (or organization).
You can (and should) delegate away most of the tasks on your plate. But there are five hats you must always wear and never give up on (strategy, leadership, management, marketing and money). So are you?
To your accelerated success!
P.S. To help you remember these five hats, I created a Senior Executive Weekly Review Sheet that asks all five of these questions. Just download the pdf, print it out and then fill in a copy every week (preferably on either Sunday evenings or Monday mornings). You’ll be amazed by the results!
P.P.S. Don’t forget to add your comments and thoughts about the five hats below in the comments section (click here >> if you’re reading this by RSS or by email). Or to Like or pass this post along.