How to Take Your Hands Off the Wheel without Losing Control of the Car

How to Take Your Hands Off the Wheel without Losing Control of the Car

Sid Smith

Delegate and Elevate

At some point in almost every entrepreneur’s life, he or she will be asked to take their damned hands off the wheel. It’s your baby, and as much as you understand the concept of working ON your business, you have the hardest time not sweating the details.

Imagine that you’re learning to juggle. One ball is easy. Two balls takes a little time, but you master it quickly. Juggling three balls is certainly doable for most people with enough practice. After you master three balls, going to four or five isn’t that hard. You’ll drop one here and there, but it’s easy to get back on track.

By the time your entrepreneurial business hits your magic number ($5 million? $10 million?), you’ve got a dozen or more balls in the air. The feeling is that YOU must juggle those balls because nobody else has your depth or breadth of experience juggling these balls.

“I just can’t let go”

Of course you can’t let go, and contrary to the opinion of some, I am not asking you to let go. At least, not let go in the way you’re thinking. While you need an acute awareness of the trajectory, location, and arc of each ball, you don’t need to juggle all the balls. Back to the car analogy, you’re still in control of where the car is going. You can start, stop, change directions, speed up or slow down. But, you’re trusting others to handle the details, keep the car tuned, fill the tank, and load and unload passengers.

Translating metaphor to real-life business

As much as I love metaphors, their meaning can often get lost. The idea is that you want to work ON your business so that you can set or alter direction easily and maintain a good handle on all the details without having to sweat the details. This feat of wonder can be accomplished with the help of three simple tools:

Tool #1: Scorecard

Scorecard, balanced scorecard, KPI – whatever you choose to call these numbers, they are the lifeline to your business. You only need 10-15 key numbers that can give you an instant reading on the health of your company. By showing week-to-week actuals against target, you can quickly pinpoint problems and predict your future.

Tool #2: Right People, Right Seats

In EOS®, we use the People Analyzer™ and the Accountability Chart™. The Accountability Chart identifies the roles (seats) and responsibilities that will enable you to achieve your goals. While organization charts are a snapshot of people in jobs, the Accountability Chart identifies the roles without regard to who might be in that role (if anyone). These are your “Right Seats.”

The People Analyzer lets you know if you’ve got the right people in those right seats. They are the right people if and only if their behavior matches your core values. They are in the right seat if they get it (understand the responsibilities), want to do that job, and have the emotional, physical, and mental capacity to do the job.

Tool #3: Delegate and Elevate

When you’ve got the right people in the right seats and a well-defined scorecard that gives you an instant pulse on your organization, you can begin to delegate some of your many, MANY responsibilities to others. You pick the tasks for which you are least suited and/or have the least interest in doing. Give those tasks to the right people in the right seats and have them take responsibility for the appropriate scorecard metrics. Give them whatever resources they need to succeed (elevate them).

By delegating and elevating (letting go of the wheel), you will build a stronger team that is much more motivated to achieve the overall business goals. Your goals and vision become their goals and vision, and in the process you control the details without sweating the details.

Mailing Address (Sid)

6901 SE Oaks Park Way, Slip 27
Portland, OR 97202


Sid: 971-678-1495
Eric: 503-635-2319