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by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

We’ve all seen posts like this on social, about how many miles you have flown, how many countries you have visited and how many air miles you have earned and do you know what? I’m not impressed and I would have thought your customers, Board of Directors, Stakeholders and Shareholders are as scared as me. Or if they are not then, they should be.

Now I love to travel, I did an Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) role at Oracle for 5 years, I got to travel right across Europe, Moscow, though the Middle East and spent six months commuting to South Africa where we won a large contract. In my personal life I’ve travelled to many countries, in Asia, South America and Europe. If you asked me to rank my passions in life, travel is number one and music is number two. There is a big difference between travel for work and travel for pleasure. Many people think that travel for business is boring. It’s taxi, airport, hotel, taxi, customer meeting, taxi, airport. While there is a lot of that, you get to meet amazing and varied set of people.

Some things I recall from my time in business travel, Having lunch with the Board of Directors in Saudi Arabia, talking to people that worked in pre-communist countries, explaining to the taxi driver which short cuts to take in Johannesburg, eating the local dishes. One of things you learn is in fact these people are just like you and me. I’ve went onto to build a great global network and make a lot of friends. These are all great things and I look back on my travel with affection but when you are running a small business like I do, it cannot be you that does all the travel. Here are the ten reasons why your post about how many miles you have flown scares the hell out of me, and should scare your shareholders and your Board of Directors:-

  1. It does not scale – There is only one of you and there are only so many hours you can work, there has to be a point where you have to create more “yous” and the only way to do this is delegate.
  2. Key Man – Every business has a key people, often they are the founders or certain key people within the organisation. Having these people doing lots of travel, places you business at risk.
  3. You Need to Delegate – Founders, Managers and in fact any staff with direct reports have to learn to delegate. This is a key skill of you to have for your company to grow and scale.
  4. Getting People to Do Things Who Don’t Report to You – Some people think that delegation is shouting at your subordinates. It’s not. that is Direction. Sometimes direction is needed as part of a management tool kit but guiding and coaching are also in that tool kit. The biggest thing you will learn as a leader is not just delegation but getting people who report to, people who report to you, to do things. Why is this important? Often people at the “coal face” know things better than you and have better solutions than you do.
  5. You Cannot Have all the Answers – When Adam Gray and I set up Digital Leadership Associates (DLA) social-experts.net we have told everybody that we don’t have all the answers. And in fact ask people to challenge us. We cannot have a company of two people, or one person flying around the world.
  6. This is bad PR – While there will be people that will think your post is amazing, probably people with the same mindset as you, telling people your company cannot scale and is totally reliant on a few individuals is not great PR.
  7. Fixed Mindset – In her bestselling book “Mindset – Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential”, Dr Carol Dweck talks about the difference between “growth mindset” and a “fixed mindset”. If you are not able to grow and delegate, it might because you have a fixed mindset.
  8. It does meet the requirements of global customers – Very early on our customers came to us and said, “we have a global business, we want to roll out your programatic social selling program so we have consistency of methodology but have it implemented locally”. For example, WeChat in China, Xing in Germany and LinkedIn in the US, if you are flying around the world you will place a US centric view of the world locally. I’m sorry but in the world of social selling I have seen that fail so many times.
  9. There is no Cookie Cutter – When we onboarded our Asian team in Singapore we realised that you stand on the left of the escalator, where as in London you stand on the right. It is local differences like this that means a US, or Canadian or a London centric view of the world does not work. You have to have local people to implement social selling locally.
  10. There is no place like home – I’ve travelled all over the world and met lot’s of amazing people, but I also like to be at home. My partner is my soul mate and she and I like being together and if we travel, we travel together. That does not mean I won’t travel but have our business model of resellers is the only way a business can scale, delegate and drive global methodology with a local touch. It also means I can be at home.

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