One of the biggest challenges founders encounter when scaling a company is the mental shift they have to make as they transition from doers to delegators. Startup founders are gritty, and they love to build things. It’s in their nature. Founders are also typically fascinated by the feeling of being on the verge of success, some even describe it as the greatest feeling on earth.
As startups move beyond the proof-of-concept stage and begin to gain meaningful traction, assembling a trustworthy team is often the next step. This is a critical step especially for early-stage founders as most of their early recruits are individuals who join the company because they believe in the vision and long-term growth, not just because they get paid an enormous salary.
Founders who build effective teams establish trust when they lead by example.
Provide clear instructions and expectations to team members. Be able and willing to step out of the way to give people the chance to prove themselves. This last step can be difficult for some founders because they believe no one can do the job better than they can. That’s usually because no one has more to lose than the founder if things don’t work right!
Over the course of my career as an investor, and now founder of Serac Ventures, I’ve learned a few things about leadership. These concepts are applicable to any company regardless of sector or industry. As a leader:
Lastly, one of the most difficult things for any founder to do is step down from the CEO role and hand over the reins of their company to a different person. I heard one founder say, “Imagine you spend several years of your life feeding, nurturing, and caring for your children, and then one day you have to hand them over to another person, a stranger, to raise them. That’s what it feels like to step down from your company and let another CEO run it. It hurts, but it’s necessary.” This may seem melodramatic, but it is indeed true.
Empowering others to achieve success requires building trust. One of the most effective ways to do that as a CEO is to trust others to do their jobs and hold them accountable when they don’t. This is the art of effective delegation to ensure things get done. It’s a constant work in progress.