68. Operators Lead the Way

Saturday, September 09, 2023

Smooth Operator/Podcast/68. Operators Lead the Way

68. Operators Lead the Way


Operators are critical to the long-term success and scaling of your business.

You’ll hear many different terms for the second-in-command of a company, yet nothing is quite like an operator.

We are tacticians. Strategists. Coaches. Leaders.

Able to dream of the big picture and then devise a strategy to make it into a reality.

Learn more about operators and what they can do for your business in today’s episode

Learn more at https://www.adamliette.com

Discover how to work with me: https://www.adamliette.com/work-with-me

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I'm going to jump straight into it. And I've talked a lot about this, you've heard me say, operator, over and over and over again. And a constant thing that I'm struggling and I'm fighting, when I'm talking with people is, what exactly is an operator? What exactly does that mean? Well, let's first talk about what an operator is not. An operator is not an integrator, an operator is not a VA, and online business manager and operator is something completely different. Something completely different from that and what they can do for your business. You know, I've been an operator, I've know I've seen it for myself what a very good operator can do for any business. Because it's just a different mindset. It's a different way of approaching things, a different type of person, and a different level of responsibility within an organization that really will supercharge you, and push you higher and faster than you ever thought possible. And really set your team up for scaling. I mean, that's the biggest thing is your team is going to be set to scale because of the way an operator functions, the way that works within your organizational chart, and what it ultimately does for for your organization as a whole.

So I want to just step backwards, and really just evaluate why this term really resonated with me when I first heard it. And that's because an operator in the military has a very clear definition. There's soldiers or Special Forces guys, there's special operators, then there's operators, and operators are the 1% of the 1% of the 1%. They're the guys in the tier one units, doing the hardest, most secret admissions that you can imagine things that they do with little to no support. They're having to not only solve the problem, but like they're given a problem set. And then they have to figure out how to fix it and then actually execute. So that operators are the tip of the spear. They're the ones doing the hardest jobs in the military. And so that really just resonated with me when I first heard this. So I will say, like looking backwards, I was at one point in integrator, I was that role. You know, we read the rocket book, and we read the traction book. And so I became an integrator. And I'll be purely honest, guys, it nearly broke me. It nearly broke me we hit that there. It's hard to say like a number figure to it. Because every business and what revenue actually means is so different, depending on the price point. But I will say, in general, it's about a scale issue. There's a level of scale, where the pure integrator model, as taught in that system breaks, you're creating a single point of failure within your organization, which we alleviate with the operator model. And that's because the operator model actually positions the company to scale it starts to build that middle management starts to build that second level of leadership within an organization with the operator is kind of a central hub to it without being the center of the spoke, if you know what I mean. They're not directly in charge of everything, even if they're like helping to coordinate everything.

So what exactly is an operator? So we know about entrepreneurial personalities? We know about what an entrepreneur is. Many of you may know what an integrator is, you know, entrepreneurs, the big visionary thinker, right? Keep their head in the clouds or thinking about the big visions. an integrator is doing largely right integrator takes that big vision, translate it into something doable and does well. And Operators The Misfit between those two models. I like to say they're about 60%, integrator, and 40% entrepreneur, meaning they're perfectly happy spending a lot of their day in the nitty gritty doing things, making things happen, building projects, doing tactical level tasks, but only if they get that 40% of their day where they're able to be in their visionary role. They're able to think of the bigger picture. Imagine the future helped to build that future of the organization. that really positions the operator to be a strong and solid second in command of the company. They have their feet in both sides of the equation. And they have their inputs in both sides of the equation. Because they're actually doing things. They're actually implementing the vision. What does that do to their view of the vision? What does that do to how they approach the vision, they approach it through a much different framework. Because they start to think about the realistic, the possible. And they're also so connected to the day to day of the company, that they have a better feel for what the team is experiencing, what customers are experiencing what we're experiencing, from prospects, because they're so ingrained in that side of the business.

That gives them a very unique perspective. And when matched up with a high caliber super motivated, visionary, like brother, that's a, that's a dynamic duo. It's too two people that are looking at the same vision from two different frameworks. And when they come together, that's where the magic happens. So operators are not integrators. We are the next level integrators with a visionary perspective, if you're looking to grow your business, grow it quickly. The operator is the role you want to look for. They provide support and leadership to the team. They're the person that is in the most contact with the team themselves, that allows that entrepreneur to stay in that zone of excellence that we want them to, we want the entrepreneur to be the visionary, we want them to stay in that lane. But also have them understand the tactical implications of what they are thinking of. And that's where the operator comes in. That's where that relationship between that CEO, and that operator comes into place. It's very much back and forth, it is a relationship. And I recorded a couple episodes ago, that that CEO operator relationship was one of the closest relationships you can possibly have in the business world, it is just it is tight. You spend a lot of time together daily, ideally, daily syncs even in a remote environment.

You go through long planning calls together, you're in the trenches together, working through the growth of the company. So as the team grows, what the operator model allows you to do is you're able to then hand over certain responsibilities. Through management of those responsibilities. You don't need to directly manage everyone. We don't need to own everything. But operators control the heartbeat of the organization. If the visionary is the brain of that organization, the operator is the heartbeat. We keep things moving in sync. We empower everyone to be at their highest contribution. And most importantly, we are the emotional leader of the team. We provide that emotional support to the team. I've said it before I'll say it again, I don't care what business you're in, you are in the people business first. And you need to treat it accordingly. The operator is that people person in that business, connecting the people being their advocate. A person that helps handle their administrative and personal needs. As an operator, you are going to get the brunt of things. When team members have problems, business wise, family wise, personal lives. It's coming to you. You are their emotional leader, their support function. Not necessarily to solve their problems in which mean you don't have to solve their problems. But it's a matter of knowing that someone is there.

Who cares? Who's there for them. That safety net is huge. It just is. We all need a safety net. Even the most hard guys I know need a safety net. That that's what the operator does in the company. One thing I've done as an operator is I would always have a one to one meeting every single month with all my direct reports

that one to one meeting was not about their performance. It was not about what they were doing on the job. It was about them. What they were noticing from their perspective, things that may have been bothering them, opportunities that they saw that they feel we missed out on. Things that they might get excited by, upset by. That meeting was about more about me, and my performance than it was about them and their performance. Just knowing you have that outlet that output for those thoughts as a team. I mean, think if you're a junior team member, and you have thoughts about the business, you have things that you're seeing from your perceptions, and you have known to share them with. Like, what are you building on your team, then if you don't allow that output, and then as you as the operator, you're then a conduit to the CEO.

Because your your team members are going to see things they're going to observe things, you're going to have ideas, it's up to us to take those ideas, put them in context. And start to imagine that future development of the company, how we're going to continue to function, how we're going to best support our team. The operator really sets the tone. For the team, we provide motivation, inspiration, direction, we hold the team together, does that mean we are responsible for everything, we are able to delegate those responsibilities. But we hold people accountable. When it's delegated, and that's a far different thing. And just in terms of the workload, and the emotional, you know, stuff that's required to be able to manage everything versus or to control everything and had to lead everything versus manage very different. Very different. But without us as the support function. It breaks down and has seen it, seen it time and time again. So again, if we have to capture an operator in one sentence, we hit it early on. An operator is the misfit between the integrator and a visionary CEO. We're a mix, we are equally as happy doing as we are dreaming of the vision of the future. And it actually requires us to be able to do both. For us to have our full contribution to an organization, we have to have our feet in both of those lanes, to be truly happy to be truly satisfied. We lead the team, we hold that team together. We're the heartbeat, the emotional support the emotional leader of that organization.

And when you hire an operator, you're setting yourself up for long term success. Because of the way you're able to scale your team through that model. We're not putting everything on one person, like we often see with other models, but instead building a support structure, building multiple points of connection between our team. And it all comes down to that operator, and what they can do for your organization. Thanks so much for joining me, I hope this was an eye opener for you. It's all these terms, they kind of run into each other. But it's one of my personal missions to get that phrase operator out there in the ether and have it become just as well known as other phrases are because I know the power of what a good operator can do for you in your business. If you'd like to know more, let's jump on a call. I'll tell you more about how exactly you can find that operator, start to enable them start to train them up, embolden them to own that responsibility and take it to the next levels.

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