Building a strong team of leaders is vital for any entrepreneurial effort to get off the ground and rise to new heights. The founder/CEO cannot go it alone for very long. Yes, the early stage company can launch solely on the grit and determination of its founder. However, sustained growth requires the addition of a team.
The larger the team the greater is the demand for management and leadership talent to guide the efforts of the people on that team. Core responsibilities get separated into boxes on the org chart. The enterprise grows.
The founder can hire great people; individuals who may share his/her passion for the product or service that is being delivered. Yet there is an ironic paradox to success. The very fact that the company may be successful can begin to undermine its ability to survive. How is that so?
As a company grows, the span of control the founder can manage gets stretched. Sooner or later the founder/CEO must rely upon others to guide the rest of the team. Often family members are involved, taking on some of these duties.
In the wildly popular Entrepreneurial Operating System or EOS by Gino Wickman, the primary org chart is a simple one. Key duties include:
- The Visionary (usually the founder),
- The Implementer – what we are used to seeing as President or COO
- Sales – getting business
- Operations – delivering the good or service
- Finance – managing the money
It looks like this:
The larger a company grows, the people sitting in these seats become greater influencers. If each manager cannot follow the vision and the values of the company with a high degree of consistency and continuity, the organization begins to crumble. The heads of the departments must work in harmony not discord.
As turf battles emerge, the greater good of the company falls victim to the whims of the people sitting in those seats. Therefore, the founder/leader must be sure he/she has a grip on the leadership. If anyone responsible for a big unit within the company wavers on their own ability to perform, then the unit suffers.
Building a Leadership Team
If a founder wants to see his/her entrepreneurial efforts grow, they must be willing to address leadership gaps in the people below them. A gap is not just an empty seat. Shortcomings in true leadership ability demonstrated by anyone on the executive team must be address swiftly and effectively.
Finding ways to identify leadership gaps may seem hard to do. You sense it, but may not be able to perfectly quantify it. General Douglas MacArthur summed it up this way:
From that teaching we get a good checklist from which we can evaluate our leadership teams.
Let’s explore each one in more detail.
A leader must show confidence in your own decisions. The people around you will not believe you if you, yourself do not believe. Be bold and firm in your convictions. You can be certain without being dogmatic or rude.
Courage comes when everything around you is crumbling; having a strong sense of purpose and resolve to see things thru.
Compassion is needed when members of the team begin to fall behind or suffer from the heat of the battle. Having compassion can be a valuable leadership trait.
Covenant is the pledge to follow-through despite all other circumstances. A contract can be broken, but a covenant is steadfast. Someone willing to live a covenant relationship is a very strong leader.
It has been said that character is what you do when no one is looking. I like that a lot. It is really a solid summation of what it means to have character as a leader. Character earns trust from those around you. You cannot be trusted if your character proves to be flawed.