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Business Owner Disciplines

The Doer or the Leader

Most of us have spent or are still spending a great deal of time in the role of the doer. The executor who gets stuff done. The builder who takes on the new project until the bones are there and it can be handed off. We are the violinist. Revered created of the beautiful and the leader of the orchestra. The problem is that we are actually supposed to be the conductor. Past certain complexity points in a business, it becomes increasingly difficult to both play and lead at the same time.

To stay with the musical analogy, a string quartet needs no conductor. They sit close together, can look each other in the eye, and use non-verbal cues to stay together when playing. If one member of the quartet stops playing EVERYONE notices, even those who weren’t even really listening to the music. Everyone has to play and play well, it doesn’t really matter who gets the title of “leader” the actual title is performer.

In the orchestra, if one violin ceases to play it is almost indistinguishable. The music made by the dozens of others carries on and the piece is performed. But only if the conductor keeps everyone together. The conductor is responsible for the outcome and output of the entire orchestra. If the woodwinds get ahead of the strings by even the smallest margin, the piece can be ruined.

The trouble for those of us who are dammed good violinists but now find ourselves standing on a platform facing dozens of performers is that unless we are disciplined about staying on that platform the whole enterprise can run off the rails. Imagine the conductor suddenly tossing their baton aside and running from the platform to pick up their violin for a key solo only to drop the violin and run back to the platform. It would be really entertaining to watch but probably horrible to listen to. (But seriously someone should try it because I would watch that Youtube video)

The conductor stays where they are and ensures that the performers perform and that the outcome is achieved.

As your business scales, you may have multiple points where you move from performer to conductor. You may have sold the service and delivered it early on but graduated to just delivering it when you hired someone else to sell. Then as you grew you started managing the seller and the service provider and then again you started managing the team leaders who managed teams of sellers and providers. On and on the evolution continues because your business changes. But be conscious of when you put down your violin and step onto that platform each time, don’t run back and forth.

Jarrod Musick

CFP®

Posted: 05/21/2019

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