Bryan’s Blog: Your role is to guide not control

Stop saying “It depends”!

Whether you are the CEO, or in a strategic advising role such as CFO or the Head of HR, your job is to guide, not control.  I hope you agree.  If you don’t, check my previous Blog “The 21st century is a terrible time to be a control freak”.

Once this challenge is accepted you need to ask yourself “How should I guide?”  You can pop in, provide some guidance, leave and check in again only when needed.  You can provide guidance and monitor very closely.  You can do something in between.  Which one is best for which situation?

I know, I know.  “It depends”, right?  Yep, it depends.  Whenever the dreaded “it depends” comes up I always like to have a method for moving from “it depends” to, “In this case I will do this because…”

When it comes to deciding how to guide the organisation as a manager or as an advisor I reckon you can’t go past this simple set of three considerations:

Opportunity – What is the scale of the opportunity being pursued?  The bigger the opp, the more you should care that you get your hands-on vs hands-off guidance precisely right.

Capability – Do you and/or the business have the capability to grasp the opportunity?  The greater the capability the more you should be hands-off.

Appetite – Is this something the organisation should really be caring about?  If the opportunity is going to distract leaders from the bigger game, you should strongly guide decision makers away from it.  If it is on the critical path towards the holy grail, you should strongly guide towards it.

Simplicity of thinking, such as thinking in threes, is so important for fast, agile decision making and for providing clear and credible advice.