Timothy* is an abdicator. He has an amazing business that has a lot of potential to grow, and a service that’s in high demand. And yet, even though he’s been in business for seven years, he just can’t seem to get to the next level.
The reason? He’s an abdicator. Timothy is afraid to make decisions about his business that will move it forward. So he either delays making these decisions, or makes them the responsibility of someone else – so that he has someone to blame if it all doesn’t go to plan.
Do you recognise any of this behaviour in the people you deal with – or maybe even in yourself?
1. Abdicators find suppliers they can blame
I’m all for delegating and outsourcing. However, there is a huge difference between delegating and abdicating.
Timothy wants to hand over important functions of his business to suppliers and then expects them to work miracles, with little support or input from himself. The reality is that while he can delegate the role to them, he still needs to take responsibility for this decision. He might need to:
* ensure they are fully briefed on the overall business and how their roles fits within that
* be clear on his expectations of them, and query their expectations from him
* consider a regular monitoring or “catch up” meeting to see that everything is on track
* most importantly, gain a minimum level of understanding of their skill or at least their KPIs to be clear on whether they are doing a good job.
Timothy has high expectations from his suppliers. But the reality is that he only wants to pay bottom dollar. So invariably he’s disappointed. However, he doesn’t take responsibility for his choice of supplier either.
2. Abdicators don’t take responsibility for engaging their own suppliers
When Timothy wants to find a new supplier (which happens fairly often!) he always asks his friends and associates for recommendations. He’ll make a point to tell his friend/associate that he’s engaged a new supplier based on their recommendation … “So they better be good or I’ll have you to blame!” he says half-jokingly.
This is classic abdicator behaviour because when his suppliers disappoint him (which they invariably do), he really does blames the person who referred the supplier in the first place.
Double abdication! It’s not only the supplier’s fault that Timothy’s business hasn’t grown, it’s the referrer’s fault too.
I’ve never heard Timothy blame himself for not choosing wisely or not managing the relationship well. Shifting blame in this way simply makes him feel better. He doesn’t have to face the idea that he might actually be the one holding his business back.
Become an activator if you want your business to succeed
Timothy’s behaviour is the polar opposite to Paul*, who is an activator. An activator is someone who takes action and moves forward. They take full responsibility for their actions – and stand behind their decisions, regardless of the outcome. If their plans don’t go as well as expected, they don’t blame anyone – they simply figure out a new strategy.
Paul is not the kind of person who tells everyone that he needs to change his website – and is STILL talking about it a year later. Once Paul’s made the decision, he picks up the phone and makes it happen.
It’s true that you may not always have the time and energy to act quite this quickly. But just don’t be an abdicator. If you behave like Timothy, you’re reinforcing the fact that you don’t have confidence in your own decisions. In turn, you’re also reinforcing that you don’t have confidence in your own business.
* not their real names