Leader – 3 signs that you’ve become a bottle-neck

Being the leader of a growing business or a busy department can be extremely demanding. There are so many plates that you need to keep spinning just to ensure that everything is heading in the right direction. In fact, without you keeping track of everything it would probably all fall in a heap on the floor?


If so, then you’ve probably fallen into the trap of becoming a bottle neck for your team. A term that simply means that things can’t really get done without your input or sign off.

The thing is that when you were smaller this way of working was absolutely essential and let’s face it a lot easier. You didn’t have the staff to rely on so you just did everything yourself and you didn’t have as many customers so you were able to be involved in every aspect of the project. You just had no choice.

But as you’ve grown things have changed, and working in the same way will not only stall your progress, and hinder your results, it’s also a sure fire way of really hacking off your team causing them to become frustrated, de-motivated, and disempowered – none of which are the ingredients of success.

As the saying goes “what got you here isn’t going to get you there.”

So here are 3 signs that you’ve become a bottle neck and what to do about it…

1. You don’t spend time communicating your vision, or your plan for the project.

Instead you either expect people to ‘just know’ what’s going, or you secretly like being the one with all the information. If it’s the latter time to get out of the ‘information is power’ mentality. In order to feel empowered and to really do the job that you hired them for your team need all the information. They’ll then be able to make accurate decisions without always feeling like they’re running around blind folded – and be much less likely to make a mistake that needs sorting out.

What to do instead – Give your team all the information they need to do their job. The vision for the company; the values; and get them involved before the start of a major project so you can plan it together as a team. That way everyone will know their part in the puzzle and nothing will fall apart in case you get run over by that proverbial bus. Having a clear communication strategy will help you be consistent and doesn’t have to be over complicated.

2. You always ask your team to run things past you before it gets launched or completed.

Being a sense check is fine – especially for big projects, but if you’re sense checking everything, being at every meeting, being cc’d in every e-mail chances are it’s gone a bit too far.

As the leader it’s not your job to be involved in every small detail. It’s also not that healthy for all the ideas to come from you. That’s what your team are there for  – and let’s face it, your time is better spent elsewhere.

What to do instead – Develop and empower your team to do the job that you’ve hired them to do. Encourage them to think of new ideas and ways of working, and make sure you listen to them and give them the air time they need and deserve. Give them regular communication and start building up that trust. The more you trust them, the easier it’ll be to step back and let them get on with things. You’ll probably find their motivation and morale improves too.

3. Your team can’t (or won’t) do anything without your input.

If your daily routine is full of interruptions with people asking you  what you think, telling you what they’ve done, or where they’re up to, chances are this is the trap you’ve fallen into. This is a sure fire way of putting the brakes on the growth of your team and your business as there’s no way you’ll be able to grow whilst you have to have your fingers in all the pies.

What to do instead – start to push back. Your team are a capable bunch and the problem lies more in you being unable to trust rather than their ability. So, give them all the information they need, be available but empower them to do their job, and be self sufficient. Ask them what they think they should do, and what ideas they have. Give them projects to lead and allow them to get on with it. You might be pleasantly surprised with what they achieve and the results they get.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on being the bottle neck and your tips for breaking the habit. Feel free to share by leaving a comment.

Finally a great way to ensure you don’t slip back into your old habits are to keep on top of your own development. You can do this by subscribing to my free monthly live workshops here



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