What Capabilities Does A Leader Need?

What capabilities does a leader need? Entrepreneurs tend to believe in the fallacy that things are going to get easier as the company grows, in terms of the team and operations. The truth is it doesn’t. The paradox is that it gets harder and more complicated.

As a company grows, their operations become complicated as the number of employees, customers, product lines and even spread of locations increases. When the staff expands from three to four people, it grows the team by only 33%, yet the complexity may increase by 300%. While the growth of the team might be incremental, the complexity of operations keeps growing exponentially. That is why many entrepreneurs long for the good old days when it was only them and one more additional staff running the business.

There are changes which are predictable, and it is important for an organization to have plans in place on how it is going to scale its processes, people and ensure that its product or services are continuously evolving with the customer needs. The people aspect of the business is very important of which leadership plays a big role in steering the organization towards achieving its vision and mission. In order to scale up successfully, it is essential to have and grow a crop of leaders who are able to predict the future, delegate effectively and are consistent in terms of planning and execution.

What capabilities does a leader need? These are the three key capabilities that the leadership team should possess to scale up the organization successfully:


1) Prediction

To be ahead, leaders need to frequently interact with customers, employees and competitors. This does not mean that they should be years ahead but even just minutes ahead of the market, the competition, and those they lead in order to make a significant and substantial contribution to the success of the organization. This is usually feasible when the organization is small and becomes increasingly more difficult as the business scales up its size of operations.

The leaders of the organization lose touch with the reality and their gut feeling for the business and marketplace because they don’t interact with customers and frontline employees. It is therefore important for the senior leadership to continually interact with clients and employees who deal directly with customers so that they are able to keep tabs on ever-changing customers’ needs and behaviors.

2) Delegation

For an organization to grow, it has to create structures that will be able to sustain its operations. This requires that the leader/s should be comfortable enough to let go and trust others to deliver on the organization’s goals. This can be very challenging, especially for entrepreneurs who were used to doing everything and fear letting go of those responsibilities. For the team to grow by ten employees, the business owners should be willing to delegate activities in which they are weak.

To get to fifty employees requires the founders to delegate functions in which they are strong! Not being able to delegate may make the leaders become bottlenecks of the organization’s growth. Many times, the strength of the leadership becomes the weakness of the organization. From fifty employees upwards, the senior leaders must nurture and train more leaders in the organization who share the same vision, passion, values and knowledge of the business. This gives them the privilege of having a bigger pool of talent from which they can choose and delegate the business roles and responsibilities in order to spur growth.

There are seven levels of delegation that can be applied by the leaders depending on how much they trust the subordinates:

  • Tell – the employees wait to be told exactly what to do. This may amount to no delegation at all.
  • Sell – this is where you ask employees to investigate and analyze and give you feedback on what they come up with. Meaning they are not required to give you recommendations.
  • Consult – you ask for analysis and recommendation plus any other options, but you have to review their thought process before you can decide.
  • Agree – you give your subordinate the mandate to decide, but they have to wait for your approval before taking action.
  • Advice – you allow them to decide and update on the decisions they have made. This gives them a level of control over their actions and autonomy. It also saves time in the decision-making process.
  • Inquire – the employees are allowed to decide and execute but update you on what they did. This allows you to take any corrective action in case the decision made was a bad one.
  • Delegate – you give the subordinate the full mandate to decide and execute without checking with you. Meaning you have entrusted them with all authority and freedom. It indicates that you have a lot of confidence in them, but it is prudent to have checks and balances in place to flag any mistakes before they go out of control.

For a leader to successfully delegate they require four components:

o          Point out clear priorities to the person or team

o          Have a system of measuring; key performance indicators

o          Provide feedback through regular meetings

o          Recognition and reward; give timely credit and reward.

3) Consistency

What capabilities does a leader need? As a leader, you should be consistent by doing what you say. Don’t say one thing and do something different. When you start a project or task, make sure you do it to a conclusive end. Keep the reason you exist the main thing by frequent messaging of the vision of the company and its values. This ensures everyone is on the same page and headed in the same direction.


What capabilities does a leader need? The success and ability of an organization to scale up can be attributed to the cohesion and capabilities of the leadership team. It is important to nurture leaders who have the capabilities to take the organization on an exponential growth trajectory.

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