I’ve worked with owners and founders for a long time, and during that time I’ve found one thing is almost always true, and that is founders find it incredibly difficult to let go. It’s unsurprising, given that the business they’ve built or are building is their metaphorical baby, but as I mentioned in a previous article about The Founders Dilemma, most founders’ choices are simple, they must choose to be rich, or king. Along with the desire to become wealthy, there is another factor motivating entrepreneurs and that is the drive to create and lead an organisation. The surprising thing is that trying to maximise one imperils achievement of the other.
Recently I explored the idea with a founder that they might, deep down, be willing a member of their management team to fail. This is not because they intentionally don’t want that person to succeed or deliver, but because at one level it reinforces the belief that only they (the founder) are able to really deliver in their business.
I work a lot with founders who are moving from founder to growth phase (or who are currently transitioning) and I wonder if it’s worth at least pondering that there’s an opportunity for founders at these stages to take a position towards people in their organisation who aren’t yet succeeding – right off the bat – and for them to feel perhaps not reassured but proved right – in their view that they need to be involved in everything.
Not an easy self-reflection, but it is true that the faster that founder leads their companies to the point where they need outside funds and new management skills (success?), the quicker they will lose management control.
Something to ponder.