Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 39 – Is it time for a co-pilot?

Is it time for a co-pilot?

Dear Leaders,

In the 39th letter to you, I have one simple question for you to answer:

Is it time for a co-pilot?

Why the question now? In the latter stages of Q1, you should be well on the way to understand where your business is and how you will need to recruit or internally promote the most deserving members of staff.

What is a co-pilot?
“A qualified pilot who assists or relieves the pilot but is not in command”

A co-pilot has a lot of responsibility, they know how your aeroplane works, they know how to fly the plane, they have been taught how to command and control the operations.

Seeing a co-pilot as a number two can be dangerous thinking, you want them to feel like they are in control when you need them to be and have complete confidence, often a number two is not considered this highly.
The role of the co-pilot is to co-lead and lead when required.

You will likely have the co-pilot within your team, they will likely be the hidden leader who should be formally recognized.

Timing is imperative for you and the co-pilot, if you are a mid-level manager do need you to take the step up and away from the day-to-day or do you need to make room to evolve and let someone else take the team or department forward while you improve and concentrate on other elements of the business?

If you are a senior leader, you might have recognized your weaknesses from your personal and professional SWOT’s, you may have noted you are not supporting your team to the level you would like to, for many, it is knowing you likely need additional support and concentrate on certain areas of the business that you cannot focus on “while in the weeds” or just it is time for someone better positioned to take over the team and help drive the direction week to week.

A co-pilot is an investment of money, an investment of time and the largest investment of handing over responsibility and trust.
Trust is the most important element here, trust in and for the team, trust for you and trust for the co-pilot.
If the trust is lost or broken it can be difficult to take back the team and the trust.

Tactically a co-pilot can be the best internal promotion or external hire for the business and can free many leaders up to step up and tackle issues that are business-critical and require the right leader and team on it.

This week, consider if you need a co-pilot, how the business would benefit, how you would change a number two into a co-pilot, if you have someone internally who could be the right co-pilot and if you will be improving trust and commitment across the business. Remember this is what leadership is.

Have a great week.


Danny Denhard