Two weeks ago I finished reading an interesting book titled The ABC of Sales: Lessons from a Superstar by Daniel Milstein. I got the book as a free Amazon download, which was good because I thought I was downloading a book that was going to give me sales tips, and if I’d purchased it I might have been mad initially.

Instead it turned out to be a book about a guy who emigrated to the U.S. from Russia as a kid and worked his way through language difficulties and biases against people from Eastern Europe to eventually become the CEO of a major real estate financing organization that he created. It was fascinating read, even if I didn’t get what I was initially hoping for.

One of the things I found interesting is that he recognized at a certain point that he had to give up some of the control he had in his own company to progress. Not that he couldn’t keep up with the workload, which, if you read the book, is astronomical. Instead, it turns out that as successful as he was, he found that some potential business partners were put off because they didn’t want to work with a founder who was also a CEO, CFO, etc. The belief was that founders can tend to be inflexible when new ideas are presented because it’s their baby, and indeed, that’s why Steve Jobs lost his job at Apple the first time around.

Milstein took a big step at that point. He went and hired some C-level personnel and gave them the reins to basically run his company while he retained the title of CEO. This allowed him to look at his company globally while letting other people create a vision and make business deals to push the company forward financially. It’s all worked out well and he gives kudos to the people he hired to basically run his company.

It’s hard to step away from one’s vision. If you have employees, you probably have in your mind exactly what you want them to do. Sometimes, even if you don’t see it, you want to control their every move, and want them to do everything exactly as you did it.

The problem can be twofold. One, no one else will ever be exactly like you. Two, it’s possible that what you’ve been doing has been limiting the success of your business. I see this example shown often on the TV show Restaurant Impossible, where it turns out that the restaurant owner really don’t have much experience in running their restaurant, cooking, etc, which explains why they’re in trouble. The host of the show often evaluates them and tells them they need some kind of manager, either a head chef to handle all food or a floor manager to handle staff and customers, and sometimes even an accountant of some type to handle the books.

What happens to the leader? They end up being the face of the company, the greeter, the cheerleader, sometimes the top marketer and recruiter. No one buys a restaurant because they want to hide in the shadows, although some buy restaurants, hire great people to run them, and just sit back and collect their share of the profits.

If you hire well, there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you keep your eyes on the prize overall. It does take a lot of guts to let someone else lead here and there, but the benefits can be awesome.

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