Another Form of Diversification, Expectation Diversity

Last week I wrote about ego diversification. And it reminded me of another sort of diversification, that of diversity of expectations. Whether in a personal situation, or a business situation, expecting one person to fulfill all our needs is usually a recipe for disappointment.

Most of us long ago realized that if we spend 100% of our time with our life partner, the probability that they, or we, would get to have, do or be everything we want, is pretty close to zero.

And yet in business, we often get caught up in looking for that ideal person. The one who has the style we want, the people skills we want and can perform all the functions we want. This is especially true of entrepreneur leaders because they themselves have such a diverse set of talents and strengths.

Most entrepreneurs have a wide range of skills and abilities, and can do a wide range of things themselves. This diversity is what enabled them to start a business. And because of this, they believe that most others have this too. And like with any other genius, what comes easy to us, we tend to believe is easy for others. And yet in my experience, this genius is rare and unique to entrepreneurs. Most of us tend to have strengths in a few areas, and if allowed to focus primarily in these areas, we will excel.

Recently I was talking with one of my entrepreneur clients about this very subject. When she first started her business, she had a partner. They worked quite well together, each contributing their expertise to the business and most importantly they collaborated well. The partner left the business several years ago and since then, my client has been seeking someone to replace her.

During the time we have been working together, she has been focused on growing her team so that she can focus on the business, rather than just working in the business. During this conversation she told me “I am still looking for that person who I can trust the way I did my partner”. As we dug into this desire, we began to realize that there were 3 or 4 key functions her partner had fulfilled and it worked. The thing was, the skill set required for each was quite different and rare to find in one person.

With that in mind, she decided to identify the functions that are truly essential and see how they could be split up. She began by identifying the responsibilities that can be handled by current staff, what can be outsourced and what she needs to hire. Importantly, she is no longer looking for one person to do it all.

Once the roles and responsibilities were clearly defined, she realized, for example, that her collaboration need can be filled by her external advisors. Next, she identified a person on her team that can take on additional responsibilities, and she has begun to narrow and more clearly define the expectations of a key outside hire.

  • Who do you have on your team with whom you are frustrated because they can’t do it all?
  • Are they strong at some things that matter to your business?
  • What would be the impact on your business if you allowed them to focus on those things and moved the rest to someone else?

Elisa K Spain

You can read more of my blogs and leadership quotes here.