Any startup founder will tell you that they are constantly switched on, fighting fires in the form of roadblocks, attrition related setbacks, keeping track of day-to-day activities and ensuring that the business continues to run. However, doing so is not sustainable for the company’s growth and financial health.
The most valuable resource that a founder has access to is their time. Unfortunately, time is a scarce resource and as an entrepreneur, you will always have a billion things that need your attention, or so you think. Constantly being switched on and tending to problems is not a sign of effective business management, instead, it is an indication of poor processes, low productivity and a lack of vision congruence between the team and the founder.
A founder that is too deeply stuck in day-to-day operations has no time for thoughts on future strategy, process improvement and delivering growth. The inability to focus on these areas means that opportunities for growth that are there for the taking will be missed. Moreover, the existing internal stakeholders that are responsible for certain processes will have no incentive to get better at problem solving as they know help is always around the corner. Lastly, if the founder and his team do not see eye to eye on the organization’s vision, they will not act in the best interest of the organization.
Getting out of the fire-fighting mindset is not easy, but it is certainly achievable if the intent is present. The first step towards long-term planning is to achieve vision congruence between the founder and his team. Getting the team to agree on a broad vision will automatically help align activities. Secondly, appropriate processes must be crafted to establish rigor and error-free execution of day-to-day activities. By doing this, the founder’s involvement will be minimized enabling focus on matters of strategic importance. Lastly, responsibility for line functions must be clearly laid out and a high degree of independence must be afforded to the respective line managers. True excellence in execution comes from accountability and the freedom to make decisions. We believe that experienced managers with independence are more capable than ones who rely on safety nets to get their jobs done.
By relinquishing the reins of minute details, a founder ascends to a vantage point conducive to steering the company towards its envisioned future. In this elevation, true leadership thrives, and work conducive to organizational success gets done.