“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt
There are a lot of leaders out there who spend time thinking about the future, about what they want their organization to be, about strategy, all that good stuff. They think about the markets they want to be in, the customers they want to do business with, how they’ll market to those customers, and the products & services they’ll offer. They’ll even sit down and think about how many people they’ll need to make all of that happen.
What not enough leaders out there spend time thinking about is what exactly those people need to look like. It’s not enough to say, “We’ll need to add 10 salespeople by 2025” – what characteristics and skills will your sales force need to have in 2025? Just adding head count without knowing what kind of heads to add is a recipe for disaster.
More specifically, let’s say today you have 5 salespeople, and by 2025 you think you’ll need 15. It’s not enough to just think you have to hire 10 more – are the 5 you have now going to be able to be effective parts of your vision for the future? Just because someone’s done a job really well for 5 or 10 or 20 years doesn’t mean they’re going to be able to continue doing that job well for the next 5 or 10 or 20.
It’s entirely possible that the kinds of things you’ve asked people to do in the past are not going to be adequate or appropriate in the future. Will those people be able to adjust or adapt? Will they be able to learn new skills? What if they can’t – or won’t?
I’m not suggesting that whenever you think about your vision you have to fire all your old employees and replace them with new ones. What I am suggesting is that we have to constantly be evaluating whether or not we have the right pieces in our organization to get us where we want to go. Sometimes as a leader you have to make difficult decisions about who needs to be part of the team and who needs to go. Those aren’t pleasant decision, but if you’re not prepared to make them then don’t be a leader.
Think about your people. What will they need to change about themselves or their performance to get you where you need to go? Can they do it? Will they do it? The future of your business depends on the quality of its people, on having the right pieces in place. Make sure you do.