I have had the privilege of observing a number of founders grow their companies from just a few people to over a hundred employees. Leaving all the other growth challenges aside, I have come to conclude that personal scaling is the most important issue. By personal scaling I mean figuring out how to go from mostly doing to mostly managing. There are many aspects to this transition but the central one would seem to be trust.
A map at 1:1 scale isn’t useful. And as I discovered yesterday during some research for my Skillshare class next week, Leibniz in 1686 expressed something similar about science, essentially saying that a theory has to be simpler than the data it explains. The same goes for delegation. Delegation is worthless if you redo every bit of work that comes back. So you can only delegate effectively if you trust the people you are delegating to. That’s one sense in which trust is key to personal scaling.
But trust is needed in the other direction as well. The people you delegate to have to trust you. They have to trust that they won’t be second guessed at every turn. That their work will be recognized and valued. Without that trust it is difficult if not impossible to sustain motivation. And without motivation delegation will not produce results.
Just to be clear, trust doesn’t substitute for processes such as goal setting and reporting. Trust is what makes those processes efficient and meaningful as opposed to going through the motions. And time and again it is clear that the pattern set at the top is replicated throughout an organization.