You Can’t Play the Cello While You’re Waving the Baton


Let’s face it; one of the reasons you started the company in the first place was because you wanted to run things. And maybe at the very beginning, you could do all jobs. Sales. Service. Financials. Maybe even some engineering or programming. And, back then, it wasn’t too complicated, and you actually could “do it all.” But those days are long gone. And sometimes, you feel, so is your control.

Yet no great orchestra conductor starts his or her career with baton in hand. That’s the leadership position they grow into. Through skill, hard work, determination, and, most of all, vision. If you’re the CEO but still trying to play all the instruments instead of wielding the baton, your company is going to hit a lot of sour notes.

The metaphor is apt because while the orchestra controls their respective instruments, it is the conductor who controls the orchestra. That’s what every successful CEO must learn to do. One of our clients loved her business so much she wanted to keep expanding her skills and take on more and more responsibilities, eventually going to night school to learn to be a CFO and manage her company’s financials more professionally.

But what she learned was that even though she had great financial skills, the CFO position took her away from her “real job”… namely, running the company. What we were able to show her, through execution of our DAS 2-Step Tune Up, is that there are processes and systems which she could put in place (and which she did put in place) that permitted her to delegate responsibility for all CFO duties while retaining control over the CFO’s functions. She learned how to put down the cello and pick up the baton.

The result? Now she can devote her time to growing the company instead of watching the books. We helped her systemize and empower her accounting team so she gets the financial information she needs, when she needs it, in order to make big decisions that move the company forward. As I like to ask CEOs, “Would you invest in a company that paid the CEO to do bookkeeping?” And yet, thousands of companies operate in this manner.

Let’s be honest … no entrepreneur in the world ever started a company because he or she wanted to do the bookkeeping. It just wouldn’t make sense. What winds up happening is the entrepreneur grows to become the CEO and has to hand off the accounting responsibilities to someone else.

If you’re a CEO who feels that if they don’t watch the money themselves, they’ll lose control of the business, then talk to a seasoned business-consulting firm. There’s no such thing as a successful company where the CEO keeps the books. It’s time to stop thinking as the superhero CEO and start thinking of yourself as the “Maestro.”