Stages of a Leadership Team or as I like to say- Know when to fire yourself!


There are several stages and evolutions of leadership teams.  Problems often come when an existing leadership team doesn’t recognize that it’s time for them to move on. Not because they have not been successful in the past, but because their skills as a leader don’t match the needs of the organization today.  Now, by moving on, I am not saying they should leave the company.  That may well be the right answer but the other possibility is to take advantage of their strengths and take a different role within the organization.  I am sure that volumes have been written about this.  I wanted to add my view because of what I have seen and experienced firsthand.

Start-Up and Early Stage Company– this requires a risk taking entrepreneur and a willingness to take on any task, no matter how menial.  There is little or no profit and no financial reward at this point.  These leaders have a vision and are willing to leap off into the abyss of starting a new company.  They are passionate about their idea and can inspire others to follow.

Growth company– This requires a new discipline.  A willingness to put in place structure, process and real operational infrastructure and yet maintain the entrepreneurial culture.  There is revenue and possibly profit, more employees, more financial reward.  The leader can no longer be as hands-on.  It’s easy to get distracted, stay too tactical.  As a leader/founder, you have to be willing to give up some control and hire some people that are smarter than you are to run areas of the company where you are not as strong.  You also have to be very self aware of your strengths and weaknesses so that you hire people who balance your skills.  You have to be willing to listen.

Stable and growing– This is a time I believe for a very different leadership team.  One that has ‘been there, done that’, leading and growing larger companies with a high degree of financial scrutiny. It is highly unusual for the Founder/CEO to continue to be effective.  There are of course, many examples where I am dead wrong.  Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc, but the vast majority of the Start-Up founders are not effective at this stage.  It requires both courage and humility for a Founder/CEO to recognize that they just don’t have the skills, expertise, and/or knowledge to continue on at the helm.  Remember that Jobs got fired.  He is more successful this time because he has surrounded himself with a great team that compliments his strengths and weaknesses.

 Turn-around.   This company has gone into the ditch and this leadership team is a very different team.  They are all about figuring out where this company has value, getting rid of the assets or businesses that are not core, cutting cost and gaining the trust and confidence of the employees. 

As I start down my path of entrepreneurship, I am looking ahead to a time when I will be hiring those that bring skills I don’t today possess to help me grow.  I also am looking forward to a time when I have the opportunity to bring in a ‘been there, done that’ CEO to help my company continue to succeed.  This is my baby.  Having children, you recognize when it’s time to bring in someone who knows how to teach them something you don’t know.  You also recognize when it’s time to launch them into the world.

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About annspoor
Ann Spoor is the Jerry McGuire to Corporate Executives and Professionals. She is an Executive Talent Agent, Executive Coach, Career Manager, Executive Branding Expert, and Social Media Coach. Ann lives in Denver with her husband Mark and their 2 kids. The Leadership Lattice is an interview series conducted by Ann Spoor CEO & Founder of Executive Lattice. The series focuses on Leadership in the private & public sector. Please subscribe to this blog to follow along in the discussion. www.executivelattice.com

One Response to Stages of a Leadership Team or as I like to say- Know when to fire yourself!

  1. Trish Ellis says:

    I love this article. I think that you hit the nail on the head. In order for a company to grow and change with the times, you need to bring in someone who has been there and done that. Great read!

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