A few weeks ago, my wife and I found a new place from which we can source our honey habit (I can extoll the virtues of honey another time). We met Jack, the beekeeper in his driveway, where he readily loaded our pre-arranged order into our car. He then went on to tell me that he has several thousand beehives and taps 6500 maple trees for syrup. He shared with me that he still works a “regular” job in which he put 350 hours last month. I asked him, “When do you sleep?” His response, “Between 8am and 10am, sometimes 10:30am if my wife lets me sleep in.”

People like Jack amaze me because of their capacity for work, ability to operate with little sleep, and still accomplish amazing feats. And yet they don’t delegate. At least Jack doesn’t. He’s quite proud of that fact, as well. No hired help.

Then I started asking myself, what is this guy all about? How would he fair as a change agent responsible for driving change in an organization?

There are executives like Jack in corporate America. While the C suite likes people like this for their boundless capacity for work, they are poor change agents. They typically don’t trust their employees, and don’t delegate well if at all. Here are three simple, evidence-based questions you can ask yourself to determine if you have a “Jack” on your team:

  1. Do they avoid talking about the accomplishments of their people?
  2. Do they work long hours – normally evidenced by late night emails?
  3. Is their vacation balance at or over the limit?

You may want to ask a few more questions to drive to the root of the issue, but positive responses to these three questions will indicate you have a potential issue – particularly if you are trying to drive change.

What can you do about this? Here are four ideas you can use:

  1. Hold him accountable to develop his people. Coach him to select one of his best people as a possible successor (but don’t scare him into thinking you are going to replace him).
  2. Have her report weekly on the accomplishments of her team – by each individual employee.
  3. Coach him to understand the drivers behind this behavior and then mutually agree on developmental actions to improve his leadership performance.
  4. Delegate the leadership of a change that will impact her unit, and hold her accountable for engaging her employees to implement the change.

And speaking of change… Bees change nectar into honey. The boiling process changes maple sap into maple syrup. Now I’m off to have a cup of herbal tea with some fresh-from-the-hive Michigan honey – which will help me change to relaxation mode for this fine Labor Day.


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