Leading Like a Maestro: Focusing on ‘Who’ Not ‘How’

March 29, 2024 | 
3 minute read

“Tucker, every time we talk about revenue your energy plummets…”

That’s what Aaron Cohen, my coach and now our Chief Growth Officer at THRIVE IMPACT, said to me early last year. 

Realization came crashing in all at once. I had created a system around me where I was the one accountable and responsible for everything related to revenue. 

Even though I had (and still have) an immensely talented team with me, I was still defaulting to the ways I had been trained over the years of being a scrappy entrepreneur and nonprofit leader. 

I was leaning into a belief that my job was to hunker down, put it on my back, and figure out HOW to do it. 

What is funny about this is that I have real expertise in revenue. I was the head of fundraising for a nonprofit and tripled their revenue in my first year, I started and sold a marketing company for real money, and I’ve been in multiple successful business development roles.  

But something was off…

Imagine not trying to play all the instruments

Imagine that you’re the conductor of an orchestra and instead of bringing together the best musicians to create beautiful music together, you keep trying to play every instrument yourself. It sounds absurd, but that’s what we’re constantly tempted to do as CEOs of our organizations. 

Dr. Benjamin Hardy speaks to this in his book “10X is Easier Than 2X”. Amongst the immense wisdom in this book, one nugget is that CEOs need to focus on “WHO not HOW” and find the right ‘who’ to play the music instead of figuring out ‘how’ to play every instrument themselves.

What was off

Co-creation is one of our core values at THRIVE IMPACT. One of the underlying beliefs of co-creation is that my job is not to be one of the “few who has the answers”, but to be the one who leads by “engaging the many” in the power of great questions in order to co-create our future. 

So, why was I stuck in revenue? Why was my energy so low? Why did I think I had to figure it all out myself? 

I needed someone to reflect to me what they were seeing. And Aaron graciously walked me through a deep and important exploration of what was happening within me and realizing the unique value I did and didn’t bring to our organization. 

What I learned from that process was that I had a deeply ingrained fear from my own childhood of being alone and people leaving me. I was translating that into the belief that if I didn’t bring in the revenue, people would leave. 

I realized that my 10X best role as part of our organization was not around revenue. I needed to figure out the WHO and let them figure out the HOW. 

Be the maestro, not the lone musician

This post isn’t so much about revenue, as it is much more about understanding your energy and your role in your organization. 

If you want to build a team and go far in creating impact, being a great CEO is like being a maestro. It’s about seeing and conducting the whole orchestra—knowing you don’t have to play every instrument—and then proactively getting out of people’s way so they can play their instruments. Your strength lies in finding the right people, placing them in their 10X role, and conducting everyone to create something wonderful together. That’s how you turn the music of your organization into a symphony that people want to hear.

Reflect first, then take action

It’s tempting to jump straight to removing yourself from the HOW of certain areas you find draining. Before making any changes, I encourage you to first reflect inward and then with members of your team. This will help you gain a clearer understanding and make the right shifts. Here are a few questions to get you started…

Start with inner reflection by asking yourself: 

  • “What are the tasks I dread or procrastinate on? What are tasks that give me energy and joy?”
  • “Are there seasons or cycles in our organization (e.g. end of quarter, right before events, after board meetings) that I dread?” 
  • “ Why are these areas draining to me? Is it because they are outside my strengths? Do I have previous negative experiences being triggered by these tasks?”

Invite your team into your growth by asking: 

  • “Where in our work do you see my energy skyrocket and my energy plummet?”
  • “What is the most unique value I bring to our organization from your perspective?” 
  • “Where do you think I’m ‘meddling’ in the HOW where I shouldn’t be?”

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