As a CEO, we tend to do way more than we should…In fact, we often do other people’s jobs for them. We use a lot of reasons to rationalize why we end up doing someone else’s work. We know that we can do it better than they can… We want to make sure it gets done right… We need it right away, so it’s faster if we just do it ourselves… It’s our area of expertise, so we should probably do it.
And the list goes on!
I can’t tell you how often I come across a situation where one of my CEOs is bogged down doing someone else’s job for them. I once had a CEO who was doing his sales manager’s job for him. The CEO did the pipeline report, coached the sales reps, made most of the sales calls with the sales reps, and closed the deals. I asked him why he kept the guy in the sales manager’s role. His response was: “Because I need a sales manager.” My obvious response was: “But you’re the sales manager! You’re just paying this guy to hang around because you don’t have the guts to fire him. If you got rid of him today, you’d save his salary, and be no worse off from a sales perspective.” He finally fired the guy and found a real sales manager.
CEOs need to realize that they aren’t doing themselves a favor, nor are they doing their staff a favor, by doing their jobs for them. It saps your time and energy, and leaves you with little ability to focus on your CEO role. And your staff will feel that you don’t trust them. They won’t fully develop in their roles and learn the necessary skills to succeed and advance. And worse yet, some of them will take advantage of it, allowing you to take more and more of their work onto your own plate. You become their patsy, and the entire time, you think you are helping yourself get things done.
“Whose Job Am I Doing Now?”
I give each of my CEOs a small laminated sign that says: “Whose Job Am I Doing Now?” They are required to keep it visible on their desk, perhaps next to their computer monitor. I tell them that whenever they are doing work, they need to ask themselves the question: “Whose job am I doing now?” And if the answer isn’t “my own job,” then they need to pick up whatever they are working on, take it down the hall and drop it on the desk of the person who should be responsible for doing it. The CEOs soon learn to stop doing everyone else’s job, and their staff starts carrying their own load.
So my recommendation to you is to make yourself a sign that says: Whose Job Am I Doing Now? Place it in a highly visible area on your desk, and look at it regularly. If you are doing someone else’s job, STOP doing it! Make them do it themselves.
BTW, one of the unintended consequences of this exercise is that your key managers will begin to emulate you, and these same signs will start showing up on their desks as they learn to stop doing their staff’s jobs too.