Ask “Who” Not “How”

In a recent Dan Sullivan podcast, Sullivan stated that many small entrepreneurs stay small because they take on every task for every aspect of their business. Essentially, they get stuck in the “How?” mindset. They have an excellent idea and then get bogged down with the implementation details.

Conversely, small entrepreneurs that break this mold to grow into successful large companies don’t get bogged down like this because they have a “Who?” mindset. When they have an excellent idea, they ask themselves, “Who would be the best person to implement this great idea?” They spend their time finding the best person to execute on the idea and they then enable that person to be successful!

Without a doubt there are times when every entrepreneur needs to get their hands dirty and do the work needed to become or to stay viable. Bill Gates coded, Steve Jobs designed and Michael Dell assembled. However, there came a point in time where these guys realized that to remain viable they would need to find people to take on these roles so they could step up and lead their organizations.

Essentially, they were able to make the change from a How person to a Who person.

So, how do you become a “Who” leader?

Transitioning from a How to a Who Leader

To be an effective business leader, your first instinct should be to find a “Who” that can implement the “How.” To do this you will need to:

  1. Be clear on the vision you have for your business. Being clear on your vision will help you explain your idea properly to the “who” that will implement it.
  2. Be clear on your BHAG and your single most important key performance indicators. This will help you establish performance measurements for the “Who” that you bring in to help.
  3. Continually expand your network within your industry and across diverse industries. You must be in a position to find the best “Who” for the job.
  4. Define a success matrix for any new idea. Dan Sullivan calls this an Impact Filter. The Impact Filter defines:
    • What it is that you are trying to accomplish
    • The difference this idea will make
    • What the project will look like at completion
    • What parameters will measure the projects success
  5. Hand off the idea to the “Who” with a clear success matrix and get out of their way as they determine the “How” and get it done!
  6. Develop your leadership skills to become a “Who” that finds “Whos“!

Take Action

Take some time this week for a little self-reflection. Are there areas where you need to give up a “How” and find a “Who” that is better suited to take this over? Are there things that you want to do that will accelerate your business but simply don’t have time to get done? Can you find a “Who” to get these done and free yourself up to work on your business instead of in it?

Finally, take a look at these articles for more information:


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