Could your business thrive without its leader?
As a business owner, and in fact throughout my career, a question I repeatedly ask my team is “what
happens if you were to get hit by a bus?”
A little morbid perhaps, but the intention is to drive a culture where the team are never totally
reliant on one person for either information, a skill, or knowledge, particularly in relation to a
However, my team recently challenged me to think about Q2Q in the event of any unforeseen
circumstances for myself. Their concern about the continuity of our business, coupled with their
faith in my leadership, led me to embark on a journey to create a comprehensive handbook that
would guide them through every aspect of running the business.
The Catalyst for Change
The catalyst for this undertaking was a conversation with my leadership team during a strategy
session. We discussed the challenges we might face if something were to happen to me – be it
illness, unexpected travel (ah… the dream of a month-long safari!!), or any other event that could
temporarily leave the business without its leader. The team, recognising the value I bring to the
organisation, didn’t want the business’s success to hinge solely on my presence. Their concern was
genuine, and it opened my eyes to the need for a robust contingency plan.
Acknowledging the Strength of My Team
One of the key realisations that emerged from our discussion was the team are more than capable
of keeping the business afloat even during my absence, but they lacked insights into certain critical processes and decision-making frameworks that were primarily floating around in my head!
Empowering them with this knowledge has become my primary objective this year.
Writing the Handbook: A Journey of Reflection
The process of creating the handbook is proving to be a journey of introspection and self-discovery. I
am having to dissect every aspect of the business, from day-to-day operations to long-term strategic
planning. This introspection is forcing me to refine and redefine certain processes, making them
more efficient and accessible to everyone in the organisation.
Documenting the Critical Elements
The handbook aims to cover a wide range of topics, including:
1. Vision and Mission:
Communicating the long-term vision and mission of the business has always been crucial for
maintaining alignment within the team, and we talk about our core values on a regular basis,
however the handbook needs to delve further into our guiding principles, and the overarching vision
that drives our every move, leaving no room for interpretation.
2. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs):
We already have SOPs that deliver the nitty-gritty of our day-to-day operations, however after the
chat with the senior team it became apparent that there are a worrying number of higher-level tasks
that only I know how to do, or even that they need doing! I’m now working my way through,
meticulously documenting step-by-step instructions.
3. Decision-Making Frameworks:
One of the most challenging aspects to capture is the decision-making process that is an innate part
of leadership. I’m confident that on a day-to-day basis my team will always “do the right thing” in
relation to serving clients, but is this really enough?
To complete this section, I am having to translate intuition into tangible guidelines, empowering my
team to make informed choices in line with the company’s values and goals. Possibly the hardest
part to put into words, and the section that I am sure will take the longest to complete!
4. Crisis Management:
The handbook will also address crisis management procedures should I be incapacitated, or
unavailable for an extended period, providing a roadmap for the team to handle unexpected
challenges calmly and efficiently.
5. Key Contacts and Resources:
I’m compiling a list of key contacts, and essential resources to facilitate smooth operations in times
of crisis, including safe storage of all my passwords!
Fostering a Culture of Collaboration
During this process, I have realised that creating the handbook isn’t just about preserving the
business’s continuity. It is also about fostering a culture of collaboration and trust within the
organisation. By sharing my knowledge openly and transparently, I am signalling to my team that I
believe in their abilities and value their contributions.
The Handbook as a Living Document
Creating the handbook is an important milestone, but it doesn’t end there. To ensure its
effectiveness, I’ll need to review and update it regularly. As our business evolves, so will the
handbook, reflecting the dynamic nature of our industry and organisation.
The Future of Q2Q
This task is continuing to be an interesting experience for me personally, and I would encourage
every business owner to embark on a similar journey. Embrace the power of knowledge sharing, and
you’ll find that your team is more capable, engaged, and united than ever before.
By fostering a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing, hopefully we are creating a resilient
organisation that can weather any storm.