Are you the CEO of a small to medium-sized business who has been wearing too many hats? Are you frustrated by the demands on your time which prevent you from doing what you enjoy – bringing in business?
If so, you might be ready to hire an Integrator or a second-in-command.
Authors Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters defined the roles of CEO and COO as Visionary and Integrator in their book Rocket Fuel. As the Visionary, you are the creative spark behind your business. You are an idea man. However, it would help if you had a partner.
Here are signs that indicate it is time to hire an Integrator:
1. Your company is troubled by “people issues”
We have all witnessed them in companies: the head of sales doesn’t get along with the marketing director; another top salesperson operates with little integrity; a distribution manager is known to bully his employees.
In his book Traction, Wickman advises you to take “the long view,” when you deal with personnel issues. “Sometimes this means eliminating or changing seats that are no longer relevant…you must make sure you have the right structure in place to get you to the next level.” However, what if, as CEO, you don’t have the time to address these issues and at the same time move your business forward?
2. Growth has stopped or slowed
This is a sign that an Integrator is needed. Are marketing and sales not working well together? Are the folks in Operations delivering on their promises?
3. Time is limited
Are you spending so much time putting out fires related to the above two issues, that you do not have the energy to go out and bring in new customers, and serve the top customers you have?
4. Lack of execution
Do you find that critical departments are not getting the work done the way they should? Is this issue eating up your time as you delve into their problems: whether related to people or operations?
5. Profits are down
This is the most troubling sign of all that indicates that changes need to be made in your company. Profits are down, not up. If you keep things status quo, you could be losing millions. It’s time to make some corrections.
Leading, Managing and Holding People Accountable
As the CEO, and Visionary, of the business, you may have founded the company, and you have been used to performing many roles. However, any of the above signs indicate that it’s time to reconsider. Wickman explains that “integrators are typically very good at leading, managing, and holding people accountable. They love running the day-to-day aspects of the business. They are accountable for profit and loss, plus the overall business plan for the organization. They remove obstacles so that people running the major functions can execute.”
You may have many unique abilities as a creative Visionary, but you do not excel at the leading, managing and holding people accountable. It’s time to hire someone to fill this role. You want to look for someone who has experience in your industry, who can work well with people, and you need someone whom you trust.
Get It, Want It, and Capacity to Do It
Wickman advises CEOs to focus on these assets when you are making key hires, such as for the Integrator role:
- Get It – The person understands his role, the culture, systems, and how it all comes together.
- Want It – The executive wants the job, she relishes the responsibility, she understands her role and attacks it with enthusiasm.
- Capacity to Do It – Wickman notes that sometimes a job requires 55 hours a week and a person hired will only commit 40. That’s a red flag. Alternatively, maybe the position requires a level of intellect that a new hire doesn’t possess. You don’t have the time to invest in a learning curve. Make sure your new hire has the capacity to do it.
Consider the critical functions of any role in your company. Does the person holding each job get it, want it, and have the capacity to do it? If not, changes need to be made.
The Accountability Chart
To help you improve your business’s operations and to successfully onboard a new Integrator, Wickman suggests that you use the Accountability Chart. “It starts with the fundamental belief that there are only three major functions in any business and those three functions make every organization run, regardless of whether it’s a start-up business or the largest company in the world,” he writes. The author spells out three functions:
- Sales and marketing generate business
- Operations provide the service or manufacture the product
- Finance and administration manage the monies flowing in and out as well as the infrastructure.
Wickman also points out that only one person can ultimately be in charge of any significant function within an organization. These functions cannot operate independently of each other, so all great organizations have another role, that Wickman calls the Integrator.
The Integrator harmoniously integrates the major departments of the business. When those are strong, and you have effective people accountable for each, “great healthy friction and tension will occur between them,” writes Wickman, “The Integrator blends that friction into greater energy for the company as a whole.”
Clarity of Roles Leads to Success
In Traction, Wickman cites the example of Asphalt Specialists Inc. (ASI) a paving company with annual revenues of $40 million and 120 employees. It was run by two brothers, Bruce and Dan, who were not getting along. Dan was running the business and burning out, and Bruce was selling full-time and continuously frustrated.
Wickman’s consulting firm, EOS Worldwide, took the brothers through the Accountability Chart exercise and redefined their roles based on their true skill sets. Bruce became the Visionary and Dan the Integrator. After implementing these changes, the company had their most profitable year ever, at a time when competing firms were struggling to stay alive.
If you create your Accountability Chart, start with the structure, and the functions. Don’t put people’s names in yet. Then, as you put people in the right seats, that group will become your leadership team. You can then delegate and elevate and make sure that everyone around you is working at their full capacity, too.
Conclusion – Three Questions to Ask
Now that you have accepted that it is time to hire an Integrator, and you have created your Accountability Chart, you can ask three questions with your leadership team:
- Is this the right structure to get us to the next level?
- Are the right people in the right seats?
- Does everyone have enough time to do the job well?
If the answers to these questions are “no” then your leadership team needs to discuss what fixes are needed: perhaps the wrong person is leading marketing, or your finance department is understaffed.
Don’t stay stuck in a place where you, as CEO, are not focusing on the things you enjoy: bringing in business and cultivating new prospects. Hire an Integrator to do the management of people, develop your Accountability Chart, make the necessary adjustments, and let your business take off.