Hands-off leadership is key to creating a strong, highly-functioning team. While it's a challenge, creating a culture built off of this principle is worth it.
Your agency is growing, your teams are creating some amazing work, and you have new clients every month, but you’re barely hanging on. Each day is filled with meetings and check-ins, which means you don’t have time for the business development you want.
Now, how many of those decisions or meetings can be cancelled? What if you led your team while handing off many decisions to your managers or team leads? Hands-off leadership can be a hard balance to find. Once you do, though, you’ll realize that leadership isn’t management. It’s empowering your team to work through issues and make decisions themselves.
Refrain from Micromanaging
Micromanaging may seem like a good way to stay informed, but it’s hurting productivity. Each time they report progress or small problems to you, you both lose valuable time. They could be learning how to solve the problem themselves; you could be working on business development or other leadership tasks.
This can be a hard cycle to break, especially if you’ve worked under micromanagers! If you can sense yourself heading towards this, take time to reevaluate your tasks. Your job as a hands-off leader is to create the vision of your team and your agency, and to build a team you trust to create the work itself.
Look at your daily tasks, and ask yourself a simple question: “Will the project be derailed if I don’t know this small change?” Chances are, while you may want to say yes, you can say no. Small changes can increase productivity, for both yourself and your team. If you haven't already, this is the time to use a project management tool. Then you can see where each project is, without taking time to talk to each team.
Empower Your Team to Make Decisions
There are times when decisions need to be made quickly. The more bureaucracy your team has to work through, the longer decisions take. Instead, empower your team leads to be efficient decision-makers. This gives you the opportunity to create hands-off leadership, while giving them the chance to become stronger leaders themselves.
There will definitely be decisions you need to be a part of, but by empowering your team to handle smaller decisions, you can create efficient systems and a team that owns their work.
Hire for Soft Skills, Not Technical Skills
Technical skills can be taught; traits like empathy, compassion, and being a self-starter cannot. Choose the candidate with less technical knowledge but is an empathetic self-starter, rather than the one with extensive technical experience but who came across as abrasive in their interview.
These personal qualities can create an amazing team, or they can be the start of the end. When a team works closely together, conflict can grow. Now, there will always be a small amount of conflict because personalities can clash. But if you hire the right people, they can work through it, instead of dwelling on them.
If you hire the right people, they can work through conflicts, instead of dwelling on them.
Trust Your Team
This can be a hard lesson to learn, especially if this is your agency that you built from the beginning and/or one of your original clients. You hired each team member for a reason. Now it’s time to trust your decision and give them the space to create incredible things.
It’s okay to check-in on major decisions, or request an update at a critical time, but trusting your team means letting them work and embracing hands-off leadership.
Trusting your team means letting them work and embracing hands-off leadership.
This doesn’t have to be an overnight change, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Make small steps towards empowering your team, and you’ll start to see the hands-off leadership you’re looking for. As you begin to implement these changes, you’ll see better time management within your team. And you'll have the chance to focus on growing your agency and creating a stronger company.