Knowing When to Say No and How to Truly Succeed Through Others

Last week I traveled to Austin to teach a leadership course and attend one of Keller Williams’ annual conferences, Mega Camp. Now, I’ve been attending these conferences for about 10 years and often get asked to present on a panel, teach a class, or host a breakout session. I love it. I love sharing what I’ve learned on my entrepreneurial journey (what works and what doesn’t), how our company has grown, how we attract talent, leadership lessons and failures, personal growth, business structure, etc. One of my greatest joys is learning so that I can share with others and speed up their success.

But this event was a little different this time. I got the usual calls and requests to speak and I did. But so did my team. Yes, many of them have spoken on panels in smaller breakout rooms of 400-500 people, but this year, two were on the main stage in front of 10,000 people sharing their expertise. Kind of a surreal moment for me.

We often talk about this concept of succeeding through others, but what does that really mean? And are we really committed to doing it? It is one of the hardest things to do as a business owner, yet it is what separates self-employed/soloprenuers and entrepreneurs/business owners. If you are still doing the job without a team, then you have just that – a job – not a business. Start adding team members and employees and independent contractors and now you’re cooking. But are you letting them shine or are you holding them back? Are you micromanaging? Are you questioning their decisions? Are you allowing them to fail forward? Are you taking all the credit? Are you empowering them to become leaders?

These are really valid questions to ask yourself. As a leader of an organization, you must ultimately take responsibility for everything that goes wrong, and take none of the credit when things go right. And why should you? You, the leader, would not have built what you built without the team of people around you. I would not have been able to build my organization to the scale I have without incredibly dedicated people in the company who have treated it like their own.

In turn, my job is to continue to cast a big enough vision to keep them all engaged and motivated, nurture their personal and professional growth, and continue to bring other high performers into the organization. That is how I succeed through others. I create opportunities and then watch who steps up to the challenge and push them along the way to accomplish things they didn’t even know they were capable of, all while encouraging personal growth through business success.

Now, back to Mega Camp. As I was watching Erin (COO of Hergenrother Realty Group) and Hallie (my Chief of Staff) on stage, it hit me what a testament to our company this moment was. It was a really blatant representation of just how large my organization had become. It was no longer just about me – Adam Hergenrother Companies was bigger than just Adam. You see, I was supposed to be on the panel that Erin did about online lead generation. During the prep call, the event organizers were asking really great questions – none of which I could answer, except by saying, “I’ll have to get that information from my COO.” Instead, why not just have my COO share the information – after all, this was her area of expertise and she had earned the right to be on that stage. The same thing happened with Hallie. The team at Keller Williams asked if I wanted to be up on that stage too to talk about our book. I declined. I knew that moment was going to be way outside of Hallie’s comfort zone and I also knew that she could handle it. She didn’t need me up there. It was her opportunity to step out from behind the scenes (and behind the leader) to share about the book we wrote together.

What does this all mean? It means I had to know when to say no. That wasn’t my opportunity to take. That was Erin’s moment. It also meant that my organization was large enough where I no longer knew all facets of the business, but had to rely on (and TRUST) the talented individuals in my organization to do their thing. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s the only way to truly succeed through others.

Take a minute to take a look at yourself and the team you have around you. Are you showing up as a leader every day? Are you helping to create and facilitate opportunities for your team so that they can grow? Are you truly succeeding through others? Stop and reflect. What did you discover? What do you need to do differently? Who do you need in your world to take your organization to the next level?

But remember this, it all starts with you.

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