Three years ago, my company was hosting an awards dinner for our business coaching clients. There at the banquet were the CEOs and owners of over a hundred companies from around the world. One of the final awards we gave that evening was to a quiet woman named Tina, who along with her husband, Matthew, owned a successful commercial and residential flooring company in the Midwestern United States. Tina's company had grown by over 300 percent in less than thirty-six months . As she came up to receive her award, I asked her to share a few words. What she said stays with me to this day.
"While I'm proud of what our team accomplished growing the company, the biggest impact of the work we've done hasn't been the growth. Earlier this year, my father was hospitalized and needed my help to be there for him for an extended time. Before we started working on our systems and controls, I would have had to choose between being there to care for my elderly dad, or having my company fail because I wasn't there to run it for an extended time. The impact of this work--and it has been work to systemize my business--was that I got to be there to care for my dad. I didn't have to make a choice between my business or my dad; I got both."
Tina wasn't the only one wiping back tears that evening. We all understood the pressure and the relief she felt being able to trust that her business had the depth to run and grow for a few months without her attention while she did what she needed and wanted to do for her father.
Would you be able to do the same?
We see this all to often, business owners making sacrifices in their personal lives for the sake of their businesses. Marriages have ended, soccer games were missed and loved ones were left to pick up the pieces. But there is another way. It's called strategic depth.
Look at all the people who work for you. Odds are at some point over the next few years one of them will have something happen in their family or personal life that requires that they step away for an extended time to deal with an extremely difficult situation. Strategic depth is what allows the rest of your staff to cover for this person, just like you know they would if the roles were reversed.Strategic depth is built on sound business systems and structured approaches that allow you to capture, organize, store, and access key know-how. It's also both the formal and informal ways you train, cross-train, and grow your team over time, so that your company, department, or team has the durability to withstand the loss of a key player--temporary or otherwise. Strategic depth gives your company both the staying power and scalability to compound your results by building on a secure base.
What's more, strategic depth protects you from the stress, fear, and anxiety of being totally reliant on yourself or a key team member. It gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you and your team won't be put in the excruciating situation of having to put work needs in front of your most important family and personal needs.
You owe it to yourself and your business to work on your strategic depth this year. You won't regret it.