Andrew Wilkinson, founder of Metalab on getting over his perfectionist tendencies to become a better leader:
Of course, handing things off is hard when you’re a perfectionist. You have to hire well, and more importantly, let people put out their own fires. When I started hiring contractors to help with my workload, I made a critical mistake: If their first mockup wasn’t great, or a client got unhappy, I’d immediately step in and put out the fire. You need to let things blow up in people’s faces. Let them make mistakes. If one of your employees misses a deadline, force them to talk to the client directly. If you’re the middle-man jumping into the fray whenever anything goes amiss, you’ll be stuck micro-managing everyone. Step back and let people clean up their own messes and they’ll make the necessary course corrections on their own. Your team will respect you for it, and you’ll save yourself tons of headaches.
Hiring has been my saving grace. The company did over a million dollars in revenue this year. We’ve built two great web-apps and launched all sorts of great side projects. We all work short days, manage our own schedules, and get to work with incredible clients. None of this would have been possible if I was a one-man-band “rock star.”
A manager recently told me, “I don’t need to prove myself to my managers anymore. My goal now is to show them that I can develop my talent.” What Andrew hits on above is exactly this point.
Successful Achievement-oriented people are ones that got there because they were willing to get in and do the dirty work. It’s a tough switch to stop and entrust that to others. The thing is, I can pay amazing dividends in the long run. Building a team you trust means the work gets done.
Companies don’t succeed because of rockstar CEOs. THey succeed because of rockstar teams.