Show Me The Time! Empowering Your Second In Command

All too often, the founder of a business doesn’t designate the time to pause and contemplate where they have been in their professional journey, and, more importantly, what comes next.  After all, planning today dictates the outcomes of tomorrow.  If you can’t remember the last time you’ve thought strategically about how your life integrates with your business, you are long overdue!  In my role as a professional facilitator with Renaissance Executive Forums, I am repeatedly told that the number one challenge of CEOs is not having enough time.  When asked how they would use this extra time, the answers vary. Some need to spend time thinking strategically about how to scale their business. Others want to spend more time with family.  More time for serving in their church or their community is also a desire. And some just want to have more fun…restoring that muscle car or painting some pottery. The reality is, most CEOs will be forever stuck in this rut, if their business isn’t built to run without them. The first step in making this transition is to develop their second-in-command.

Like money, you must spend time to make time. Development of key executives in your business must be a priority if you want to align your time with what’s important to you.  And, it’s just good business. Growing and empowering key talent increases retention, reduces bureaucracy and ultimately improves productivity.

By now you should be hearing Rod Tidwell saying to you, “Show me the time!”  If you are ready, willing and committed, here is a proven model effective leaders use to empower their number twos.

Talking about projectsIdentify Potential

Do you have a right hand, or at least someone with the potential to take on more responsibility?  Remember, they are likely not ready yet; that’s where the development comes in.  Reflect on what key competencies are required to be successful as a leader in your company.  Compare those to your key talent and chose someone who you think is most likely to grow under your mentorship.  Be analytical, but also trust your gut.  Consider that you may need to recruit in the right leader if one doesn’t exist in your company already.

Once you have identified the right leader, the first step is to share with them your goals and your commitment to their development.  If you have selected the appropriate person, they will appreciate the opportunity and be excited to work with you on their professional growth.

Have a Plan

The next step is to clearly define outcomes to ensure that your employee knows what success looks like.  Document and discuss the plan to ensure complete alignment.  Start with tasks that can be easily mastered to build confidence.  Increase complexity incrementally and give them the tools they need to be successful.  Most importantly, allow them to learn through failure.  And don’t forget to celebrate achievements!

Use Time Wisely

Remember, you must spend quality time with those whom you wish to empower for two reasons.  First and most obvious, regularly-scheduled one-on-one meetings provide the opportunity to review progress on development plans.  But, more importantly, you must build emotional equity significantly investing in the relationship.  One of my most effective mentors, also a former boss of mine, would schedule a full day to conduct performance reviews twice a year.  The first half of the day was to spend time doing something enjoyable like surfing, playing golf or just taking a walk.  The second half of the day was dedicated to discussing plans and reviewing performance.  As the relationship grows, feedback is more effectively received and implemented, regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative.

Build Trust

Trust is key in any relationship, including those between leaders and their employees.  Authentic and transparent communication is critical.  Provide open and honest feedback as quickly as you can when you observe successes and challenges.  Don’t let issues fester, address them as soon as possible.  The more vulnerable you are, the more your second-in-command will respond to your leadership.  And don’t forget to reap the benefits of the investment you have made by soliciting feedback as well.  Feedback from key executives can show you your blind spots and provide invaluable input to your own professional development.

Time is one of your most valuable resources.  Invest wisely and enjoy the benefits!


laura sabo headshotLaura Sabo is a professional facilitator with Renaissance Executive Forums. She brings together Business Owners, Presidents and CEOs from non-competing companies into an advisory board process through which thousands of leaders gain fresh ideas and new insights.  Membership in Renaissance Executive Forums Jacksonville is by invitation only. Each member is selected based on company demographics, personal and professional merit and potential for contribution to other Forum members. This group of leaders is assembled with one purpose in mind, to help each other ascend to the next level and to reach their destination.

For more business coaching tips and ways to enhance your overall business growth through the power of peer learning, contact Laura Sabo via email at or visit

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