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When You Let People Do Their Job

By February 7, 2024No Comments

The University of Washington lost to the University of Michigan in the national championship and then both coaches left. But that’s not what this is about.

This memo is about leadership, delegation, trust, and success – key business success measures.

On January 6, 2024 the Wall Street Journal had an article titled, “The Savvy Investment Behind Washington’s College Football Run.” The Husky coach, Kalen DeBoer, is paid way less than any of the other three coaches in the final four. Way less.

His assistants get paid way more. As the WSJ states, “Collectively, no school in a major conference spends a higher share of its coaching budget on assistant coaches than Washington.” But it’s not just the money, it’s much more. Consider the following and how they apply to business.

  • Delegation – the UW assistants are given free reign to do what they do best. In our books and other newsletters, we emphasize the danger of owner dependency. Give people responsibility, let them run with it, and build a better, more valuable, business.
  • Trust – you attract better people (better coaches) when they see opportunity. As one of my best clients (Fred Barkman) likes to say, “A people hire A people. B people hire C people [because they don’t want to be shown up or challenged].”
  • Empowerment – related to the above two points. DeBoer and his offensive coordinator hatch a game plan and then the OC takes over, preparing the players and calling the plays. When employees know you have their back there’s trust and dedication. It’s being there to guide them when they’re stymied, letting them make small mistakes, so they learn and grow.

To summarize, owner dependency decreases value. The owner who lets go and becomes unessential to the day-to-day operations is the one building greater value.

“The way to attract great talent is to give them opportunities to take on high-stakes, high-profile roles and run with it.” (Executive coach) Alisa Cohn