“Delegation is never abdication. Rather, it’s learning to work on the business instead of in the business. Good leaders know when to get out of their own way.” – Ray Silverstein
I’ve always thought the phrase, “Work on your business, not in your business,” seemed wise – but I was never able to figure out what working ON my business should mean. For years, I did all the things that an entrepreneur is supposed to do: I took care of clients, oversaw quality, provided strategic direction, managed finance and administration, did marketing and promotion, held weekly meetings with employees. Yet the business never flowed; it never FELT GOOD.
Recently, I finally figured it out: I hold weekly Board of Directors meetings.
It’s one of the most transformative things I’ve done in my business. The weekly meetings happen in the same time slot that I used to hold team meetings in my previous business. Although I’m the only physical attendee now, multiple voices speak – they are various parts of me that influence the business. There’s CEO me, Creative me, Spiritual me. Occasionally, others show up, but that’s my core team.
If this sounds weird, just wait – it gets weirder!
We have an agenda, we stick to the agenda, and I write down what each of those voices has to say on every topic. Here’s what we “talk” about:
- Where are we at, how do we feel?
- What do we want?
- Why do we want it (what is our motivation)?
- What do we appreciate in each other?
- What will bring us joy this week, this month?
- What are we going to create today, this week, this month?
- Who will we connect with this week who will inspire us and make us feel committed?
- What ACTIONS do we need to take?
It’s unorthodox and it works. My weekly BoD meetings are the best meetings I’ve ever attended. We don’t spend time hashing out day-to-day logistics or recapping projects.
We truly work ON the business – weekly alignment around goals, motivations, and teamwork. Focused intention on happiness, creation, and connection.
Every week, I learn new things in these meetings. The biggest learning is how these various parts of me influence my performance and decisions. In the past, I experienced “Business Maria” as a single entity and she had “moods” that dictated everything. Now I see that each “mood” was really one of the parts making a scene because it was feeling ignored.
Now that all my business parts get equal attention, “the team” is high functioning. We’re aligned and in tune, so things flow. The business moves forward rather than lurching along from task to task or swinging from mood to mood.
I’m certain that this model is scalable to a team of multiple humans. When I have a “real” team again in the future I’m going to try it.
Who sits at YOUR table?
Different aspects of ourselves are present in our behaviours and decisions.
- Think about the “business” of your company, your life, or your household.
- Identify the various roles you play. Consider functional roles (like bookkeeper, cleaner, marketing director, HR manager, chef) as well as relationships (like parent, partner, friend, employer). Write these down.
- Round up all the roles or parts and bring them to the table for a meeting. Ask what each one wants, believes, thinks, and needs. And LISTEN.
I’d love to know where this exercise takes you and what you learn – please comment below and share your experience.
Ray Silverstein, “Work On – Not In – Your Business.” Entrepreneur, March 26, 2010: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/205742