Leaders are Paid Based on How They Need to be Spending their Time

By: Chris Mahlmann Last Updated: October 15, 2009
You don't need to hawk over every aspect of your company.

You may call yourself a business leader, but are you really doing what it takes to lead your business?

Often times, when I work with small to mid-size business owners, they tell me that everyone in their company is just buried in their day-to-day business tasks. These organizational heads tell me they are even finding themselves submerged in the operational details of the company that end up consuming their day. They consciously switch their priorities from building their business to just maintaining it, because these tasks “have to be done”. Why do many managers and owners get sucked into the progressive black-holes that are “micromanagement” and the tasks that “have to be done”?


Today’s market doesn’t allow for micromanagement. One of the main issues leaders have with micromanagement in today’s market is the mindset of “something has to be done” needs to be properly designated to the individual that needs to get that done. Every moment the owner spends working on something an employee could do, takes time away from the owner or manager analyzing how their market has changed.  They will begin the next day in a position of having to work from behind because they didn’t get ahead. As a leader, you cannot allow yourself to fight the small battles of yesterday and today. It will keep you from winning the competitive war that consistently lies down the road.

When you are in the trenches, you can’t see the entire battle, or the war.

True “office or company generals” will always have an idea about what they can do to grow their business and how to do it consistently. They will hand off operational duties to their lieutenants and soldiers who can take the time to implement their knock-out ideas before too much time passes and competitors beat them to the punch. After all, there is a reason generals aren’t doing battle on the front linesanymore. A good general will position himself to see the whole war—this battle, and the next one. When you are in the trenches, you can’t see the whole battle; you can only see whatever task is in front of you.

What exactly is your job description as a CEO, manager, owner, etc? I would bet it has something to do with leading, guiding, and building your company, and I would bet it does not match the job description of your employees. I used to ask my sales people, “What do you want to make in this job on an hourly basis?” They all can figure out that amount pretty quickly (after all, they can calculate their commission before the ink dries on a customer’s signature). Then I would ask them how they spend their day and whether they would pay themselves that rate for what they actually do with their time? You can imagine the surprise on their faces when they think about paying themselves $100-$150 an hour to send out information kits to prospects, filling out expense reports, surfing the web, or checking email 23 times per day. Would you give yourself $100 an hour to do what you do? Of course you would, but is what you are doing worth $100 an hour? Would someone do what you are doing for $8/hr, $15/hr, or $50/hour? Then why, as someone running a company or a team of people, are you doing the work of someone you can pay to do the work for you? You are the one running it after all. If, as a CEO, you are spending any significant amount of time doing something you don’t need to or aren’t particularly good at, then it is time to figure out how to better utilize your support team to get that work done, even if it means you have to add someone new to the team.

Every hour you wait means you’re choosing to limit the potential income for you and your company, instead of earning the type of revenue to pay yourself what an owner, CEO, manager, etc. should be making. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how many hours you have to work at that lower rate to reach the financial success you have in mind.

Give yourself more time each day to make the money you deserve.

For an easy way to put these ideas into motion right now, try keeping a diary with a couple of notes on what you are doing each day. No need to do anything fancy, but after a few weeks, look it all over. How many tasks that occupy your time could have been done by someone else in the organization?

Just invest the time. Take an hour this week to fish out those tasks; because it may save you 20 minutes every week from then on. That one little change then pays off 17 hours per year. That is 17 hours that you could be spending on mentoring your team, meeting with customers and prospects, or brainstorming about how to grow your business. Once you put even a handful of those new ideas together, you have made a major shift in the time you spend building your business. Then, you can really step it up versus your competition. It is impossible for this not to translate into more opportunity for you and your team. Just remember, a good general can see the whole battle and keep an eye on how the strategy and the execution is going. He’s paid to do the job he is supposed to do—to lead.