Starting a company from scratch and being the Founding CEO or First Family is an honor and accomplishment too big to put into words; especially as it grows to employ people, leaders, and teams and impacts the world! It’s truly your baby… and that comes with massive positives and massive concerns. The positives can be… it’s your baby, you love it like no one else can, you’ll focus on it like no one else will, the pride of having your hands in everything that leads to success or learning, and the significance you feel being THE Integral part of the business is a feeling like no other. Unfortunately, the concerns are the same as the positives when a leader is unwilling to let go a bit and allow the experts he/she hired to do their job; leading to micromanaging, a 24-hr workday, no delineations of labor, and many more issues that erode their reputation as a leader and increases negative turnover!
Usually, the Founding CEO or Family-Run Business was led great when the company was small or the dysfunctional style that led to success could be tolerated due to the necessity of everyone having to come together to pull off the impossible. However, as the company grows, adds employees, adds teams and departments… that old leadership style is no longer effective. I’ve seen 4 big issues leaders struggle with who have started a company that’s experiencing growth or massive growth:
- The Leader expects everyone to love their “Baby” like it’s their baby!
- The Leader sees no delineation of labor… every employee must do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING at the leader’s whim and it’s always all-hands-on-deck!
- The Leader struggles to respect the Work/Life Harmony of others. After spending all their time building the business, saving the business, and growing the business… the leader expects everyone to be on all the time; hence the 10:30pm and 1:00am emails!
- The leader initiates constant mid-stream changes. They shared the vision or project, the team has started the process of moving forward, and the leader makes continuous changes mid-stream… Or, the leader over involves themselves in the process without the full knowledge, understanding, or care of how far the process has gotten or the amount of people involved; causing mass hysteria on a loop!
So, now we know some of the top issues… what are the 5 Keys to best address them?
As the leader who has founded the company and built it from the ground up… you will have a select number of employees that have started with you from day one. These individuals are loyal, trustworthy, and dependable. However, a leader must be careful this is not all they are and the only reason they’re there. Too many times, the leader may reward blind loyalty over growth and evolution! The fact these employees will simply do what they are told or know to stay out of the way cannot be the only reason they are an asset! “Day-One Employees” must be encouraged to challenge the leader, question the leader, and help to evolve the company.
As a Founding Leader, be sure you’re not discriminating against your employees and creating an Us vs. Them mentality between your old employees and your new employees. Your people are smart and can clearly see what’s going on even when you cannot. Are the Day-One Employees given more slack, rewarded better, or unfireable no matter how bad they preform? Must your new employees conform or know how to hide like your Day-One Employees or else? Can ideas be challenged and initiated by all or only a certain few? These are all questions to be pondered, answered, and applied by you as a leader!
Share the Vision
Many Founding Leaders are creative and creators! They started a company from nothing, made it work, developed idea, and have achieved quite a bit if success. That creativity doesn’t just turn off and as the company grows. It can become hard to know who to share your ideas with and when to share them… And, because you’re the Founding CEO you have the right to share them with anyone you see walking down the hallway to pull it off… Right? Wrong!
Inform your organization of your new idea and vision, why it’s important to those you serve, the company, and the employees themselves. It’s also helpful to share a timeframe of when the organization will begin to focus on the new tasks at hand, timeframe of impact, and that a meeting will be announced to plan for how to best get started. We’ll get into this more later!
Respect Divisions of Labor
Know who your leaders are within the company, what they do, and what they’re responsible for. This will allow you to call meetings with the right people and teams instead of Jack walking down the hallway that you just dumped a task on passing by. This scenario is not made up and actually happens quite often out in the world and over virtual calls… a leader has an idea… is walking down the hallway… and asks Jack from Department A, Jill from Department B, and Bob from Department C to do three different things all related to one project; all while Department D is already working on it. No one knows what anyone is doing, what’s going on, have to stop to put out internal fires, all while looking dysfunctional and scatter-brained to a client/customer!
As a leader, be sure to maintain your 1-on-1 Meetings with your Direct Reports and sit in on team meetings; allowing you to know who does what and where to go when you need something and have your next big idea.
Prioritize & Timeframe
Now that you know which leader and team to start your idea and vision with… here are two simple questions to ask:
- “Here’s the idea, where we’re going, or what we’re doing ______________! What is it going to take for us to pull this off? As a Founding Leader myself the Pro is you get to come up with great ideas that will enhance and sometimes save your business. When you first started off, you get to not only come up with the ideas… you also get to implement them, go at your speed, and success or failure is on you! Now that the company has grown… it’s not that simple. Sharing the vision and asking how we best pull this off allows feedback and the necessary energy and inclusion for buy-in! A leader can listen to a multitude of ideas and enhance the vision and process with new ideas he/she would never have thought of on their own. Remember, your team is an asset… you picked them! Therefore, use them and let them be the experts you hired; meshing your ideas and their expertise!
- The second question is, “How long will it take to pull this off? As a Go, Go, Go, impatient person, myself… this style worked great for me as a solopreneur or starting off with a small number of staff. However, this same style may be soul-crushing to a stressed-out team already managing 17 of your other brainchild that have yet to cross the finish-line… Be Mindful!
The Timeframe approach will require you, as a leader, to be curious about the “List’ of your people and teams. I present A Leader’s List in many of my Leadership Trainings… A leader must be willing to protect their people from their poor leadership; being curious enough to ask about the list of their employees. Perhaps their list is too long and they are about to burn-out and leave… or even worse… burn-out and stay! Perhaps their list is too short and they’re about to bore-out and leave… or bore-out and stay; both are a problem. Therefore a perfect question is “We’re moving forward with this plan; what’s a realistic timeframe for this to happen?”.
When the new idea or vision is a “NOW Thing” and the train has left the station… what an opportunity for you to lead and help your leaders and teams re-prioritize their lists. Remember, everything cannot be in the High-Priority/Handle Now quadrant!
Your team has pulled off yet another impossible feat… and you reward them with a Thumbs Up emoji… What the heck! This 5th Key is short and sweet… they’re numerous ways to reward your people and teams; Leaders marry what they what to do and give as a reward with what the people and team wants and needs most right now!
Some people and teams respond to time off, an earned trip, bonuses, verbal praise, food, adventure or leisure experiences with the work-team, their loved ones, or combined. Perhaps you research a concierge employee reward service that is 100% focused on caring for employees; allowing you to get back to your definition of “Busy” and what you do best and your employees are rewarded on a level they individually select and couldn’t have imagined! Whatever you choose… A leader is curious enough to find out and leader enough to follow through immediately; making the reward fit the timeframe of the success… Be Mindful!
You now know A Leader’s Monkey Wrench and the 5 Keys to Not Burning-Out Your People or Teams as a Founding Leader… Enjoy your Evolution!!!
“Remember, your team is an asset… you picked them! Therefore, use them and let them be the experts you hired; meshing your ideas and their expertise!”
– Andre Young
Written by: Andre Young
Click www.youevolvingnow.com to find out more about Andre Young’s Leadership & Work/Life Harmony Trainings, Speaking Engagements, Books, and more for your organization, your leaders, employees, and teams!