Scaling as a leader

An exercise to identify the essentials, create space to grow, and uplift your teams in the process

Photo credit: Corbet Fawcett

Needful things

As leaders, we have access to people, systems, budgets, and other things that others do not. We also have abilities (and responsibilities) that others do not. As a leader you may be able to sign off on vendor contracts, manage budgets, approve hires. This means there are some things that only you can do for your team. Odds are that you’re also senior and so there may be things that only you have experience in. So when it comes to scaling as a leader, a great starting point is to consider these questions:

  • What can only you do?
  • What resources are only available to you?
  • What experience do only you have?
Scrabble tiles spelling out “Only I”
Image credit: Corbet Fawcett
  • Only I can approve new hires
  • Only I can approve budget spending
  • Only I can submit performance reviews
  • Only I have weekly time with our VP, SVP, CEO, etc.
  • Only I am included in strategic planning or roadmap planning
  • Only I have access to the HR system
  • Only I know how to negotiate a new contract
  • Only I know how to estimate next year’s budget
  • Only I know how to analyze this type of data
  • Only I have experience resolving conflicts between teams
  • Only I have experience onboarding a new vendor
  • Only I have experience dealing with performance issues

Now what?

Now we talk about scaling as a leader.

Last words

“Scaling” applies to us as individuals as much as it does to systems and teams. Sometimes we need to change what we do and how we do things in order to keep thriving. But that’s a challenge. This “Only I” exercise may seem like it’s about creating space on calendars, space for new demands. It is, but it’s also about reimagining who you are and what you deliver as a leader. It’s about clarifying the essence of your role.



User researcher. People leader. UX coach. Fascinated by people. []

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