How Fearless Leaders keep their people


Recognize and guide your new leaders. Give them access to your territory.
Position them and empower them to take over your job one day.



“I must follow the people.

Am I not their leader?”

             — BENJAMIN DISRAELI




In a few short weeks, your relationship to your employees has probably gone from ‘How do I keep my key employees?’ and ‘How do I find and hire away more experienced PAs and PMs?’ to: ‘How can I keep my employees working?’

Your employees have gone from thinking ‘I can blow this joint anytime; where can I find a better job or more pay?’ to ‘Will I keep my job?’

But guess what? Your job is still the same.

Your job is to know how every person in the firm is doing, from their external performance to their internal frame of mind. Your job is to notice when people are stepping up and to develop those employees. Your job is to notice when something’s wrong and give flagging employees the direction, support, training, reassignment, or breaks that they need.



I’ve mentioned the leader of the company I was working for during the last recession. I think it’s stunning that he kept every single person employed throughout the downturn. Only those who chose to leave left the company.
Not only that, he announced this goal from the start.

How will you do this? If you were to announce tomorrow to your entire firm your goal to keep every single person employed through this undefinable period of time, could you do it? What would it take for you to do so?


Start by listing the things you fear could happen.

 Get them all out. Get ‘em ouuuut!

Now group the list into 1) things you can control, 2) things you can influence, and 3) things you cannot control or influence. Go ahead. Take your time.

— — —

You should be feeling more in control now. Next, get to work on a short-term and a long-term action plan to address only 1 and 2.


Who does what?

First of all, you can’t do it all. Stop trying. Everyone in your firm is now a leader. Start ‘thinking different’ about who does what. Starting with yourself, make a list of the things that ONLY YOU can do. That means someone else can do the rest.
As you look at the roles, projects, and tasks in your action plans, match each of them with the person in the firm who could be great at it. This might be you, a partner, a PM, but look at your firm top to bottom. Think different.


What are the projects you’ve been putting off? What trainings and upgrades have you not had time for? Think about those projects too, and match them with the people who would love to step up and take charge of them.
Now isn’t the time to retract, to shrink. Now is the time to get those important things done that you’ve kept putting off because everyone was ‘too busy’.

How about what you need?

Who can become your personal assistant? What can they take off your plate so you can stay at the helm (doing those things ONLY YOU can do)? Whom would you choose for this role and why? Could it be a rotating role giving several people exposure to what it’s like at the top?

As you create and reassign new roles, pay attention to how your people are responding. Who is stepping up proactively with ideas and actions? Are you surprised by who that is? By who is steady and who is drifting?Recognize and guide those new leaders. Give them access to your territory. Position them and empower them to take over your job one day.


“I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been.”



Photos taken at Lincoln Center, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Apple store in Manhattan, New York.
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