Small business leaders wear many hats. They do it all — from high-level strategy to opening the mail and taking out the trash. They’re accustomed to being producers and getting things done and done well is all within their nature.

Unfortunately, this spirit of self-reliance can be a major obstacle when it comes to building and managing a team. When you’re used to single-handedly running the ship, it can be difficult to relinquish control to your crew members. But doing so is often the key to taking your business to the next level.

If you’re in the process of building your team and need some guidance on turning them into high-performers, consider the E.G.G.S. model.

Why eggs? Well, your team is kind of like a nest full of eggs. E.G.G.S. They’re your future. If you nurture them, they’ll help you sustain profitability and growth. And they’re fragile or if you mishandle them, they will break.

So what does E.G.G.S. stand for?

Enlist the right people. You need to hire a team of people who are as skilled, maybe even MORE skilled, than you at what they do. That doesn’t mean hiring people who are great leaders and strategists and who can do your job. You’ve already got you. What you need are people who master the tasks required to make your company grow.

Get out of their way. Thousands of small business leaders look back and say, “I hired the most talented person I could find. But it didn’t work.”

What they won’t tell you is that it failed because they couldn’t step back and let their people do what they were hired to do. They couldn’t let go. In a nutshell, it’s an inability to trust others. There’s a brand of command-and-control leader who got ahead by trusting his OWN instincts. He believes that “his way” – which has always worked for him – is the ONLY way. It’s not, of course, but he can’t trust others to find their own solutions. Instead of letting people make their own mistakes and grow, he constantly second-guesses them. The result? These high-potential players feel disempowered and leave.

Give them all the credit. This is a tough one for small business leaders, most of whom take pride in their own insight and creativity. But consider this: a Hay Group study on employee retention showed that the number one reason people stick around is that their organization gave them a chance to use their skills and abilities.

People have a burning desire to make a difference. Imagine two leaders: Leader #1 makes it known – either in subtle or not-so-subtle ways – that she’s the source of every success in her organization or department. Leader #2 credits successes to the team, making them believe THEY deployed their skills in a meaningful endeavor and made it happen. Which team is more loyal, more motivated and more likely to flawlessly execute the leader’s agenda? Obviously #2, a leader who recognizes that her light bulb glows brighter when her team members shine.

Set high expectations and demand excellence. When you develop a plan, you need to point your organization in a direction and say, “Here’s where we’re going. This is the expectation. Getting there requires that every member of the team perform at the highest level.” Good people thrive on that kind of challenge. They yearn to use their skills and abilities to achieve goals and make a difference. Assuming that you’ve clearly laid out a plan, gotten buy-in, and set individual expectations, now it’s time to get out of the way and let them “own” the execution your plan. You’ve laid the foundation – you now need only play an oversight role.

Fair warning: great leaders inspect what they expect – so don’t let delegation turn into abdication. Stay involved and available, make sure people are accountable, but intervene only if the team veers off plan or if an individual team member needs your help.

Leading a small business is a tough, high-risk job. It’s not for everybody. But the fact you’re still reading suggests you’re one of those people who can’t resist the challenge – good luck!

Michael Boyette is the executive editor of the Rapid Learning Institute Selling Essentials e-learning site and editor of the Top Sales Dog Blog. Contact Michael via e-mail at or connect via Twitter.