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Why ‘Attachment Management’ is the Best Way to Scale Your Company

An uninvolved leader loses the ability to endow his employees with his expertise, his spirit, his direction – everything he’s learned and that has to filter down in order for his vision to take shape and grow.

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During the 1970s, the overwhelming number of households with both parents working full time gave rise to the trend of “quality parenting.” The idea was that parents don’t need to spend much time with their children, as long as they schedule some quality time dedicated to one-on-one interaction. Childcare was delegated to third parties, and quality time usually took place at dinner and during bed time.

But over the years, this attitude to child rearing lost favor with psychologists, children and parents. Everyone realized that the important things in life happen haphazardly, without being planned, and that intimacy, value and connection can’t be penciled into a calendar. Happiness and meaning can’t be planned.

I thought of quality time recently while contemplating leadership, and how – in that respect – it is very much like parenting.

The “quality time” leader scoffs at micro-management. He or she puts a great emphasis on their managerial decisions, but they are loath to get into the nitty-gritty of their teams’ and employees’ day-to-day. They limit themselves to the weekly meeting – the corporate “quality time.” They reason that this attitude will allow them to scale: since scaling won’t be possible if they delve into the fine details, they won’t do it even now, before scale happens.

But this is exactly the attitude that hinders scaling up. An uninvolved leader loses the ability to endow his employees with his expertise, his spirit, his direction – everything he’s learned and that has to filter down in order for his vision to take shape and grow.

And while all employees must “play on their own” in order to grow and evolve, the nurturing they get from their leaders is priceless – and so is the knowledge that their leaders are present, involved and accessible. Before wearing the managerial badge, a manager is a professional, and his knowledge and expertise must pass to his employees before he can rise up on the warm air currents they produce. Scaling is a privilege that needs to be earned.

A true leader puts her full faith in her employees, and trusts them to make their own decisions, even if that sometimes means failing. However, as a professional, an expert of the fine details, she is available to her team, for questions, problem-solving and fine-tuning. She does not take for granted that they can negotiate the corporate landscape on their own. This more ‘tactile’ approach means that the leader gains a broader experience of the team members and vice versa, creating a far more holistic bond.

Much like the backlash movement to the quality parenting paradigm – attachment parenting – this is a form of “attachment management”. And while as a manger you don’t have to carry your team around in a sling, your presence and attention are an important nurturing aspect in their growth.

This managerial attitude ensures that teams will deliver time and time again, earning greater confidence and expertise as time goes by. Now they, in their turn, can go through the same cycle with their own team members – and so forth. And as the company grows, managers and employees work in tandem like a set of cogwheels transferring power and speed to each other.

The great benefit is a true ability to scale without paying a great price in value and expertise. The secondary gain is building great company culture: employees trust the manager who has taught them and was there for them in real time. They can foster an honest dialogue even when things don’t go as planned and failures occur. They are loyal and grateful.

That’s why my favorite place to work at our offices is around the large table in the common area, where I’m available to everyone. As a founder and CEO of a successful company, I’ve learned that scaling up isn’t something you deserve. You earn it by the hard labor of love and involvement. You can’t hope to achieve quality and size if you stick with the paradigm of quality time leadership.

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