Many of the organizations I work with experience missteps in hiring as their leadership teams grow. The transition from leaders who are doers to true leaders and coaches is one of the biggest challenges teams face. The reality is, most organizations grow as a result of the hard-working entrepreneurial spirit, the “do-whatever-it-takes” mentality. And for a while, this works, and companies reach a certain level. However, with time, this approach can become the choke point for the growth of an organization or department.
A typical (and somewhat logical) response is to recruit a heavy hitter from a large organization to take over that seat and build out what that department should look like. This comes with its challenges, though. Often, these heavy hitters are not coming from entrepreneurial companies; rather, they are associated with mature, well-established businesses with large organizational structure, support, and thinking…
…all of which have their own challenges and dysfunctions.
Typically, a massive disconnect results. In many cases, the “heavy hitter” has no idea how to actually get down in the weeds and get things done. The senior leadership team is regularly baffled by how much the heavy hitter struggles. They do not understand why success is taking so long. The heavy hitter may want to hire more people, start a focus group, or increase outsourcing.
This disconnect happens during the transitional phase from an entrepreneurial doer to a larger organizational leader/coach. I have repeatedly seen situations in which a “heavy hitter” fails because they simply don’t know how to be an entrepreneurial doer while building the team to that next level.
Identifying your business’s growth stage will help you avoid this trap. Keep in mind that as you make the transition to becoming that bigger and better company, you will initially be surrounded by other entrepreneurial thinking. Don’t take this for granted! Be aware of the potential for groupthink, as well as the possible implications. As you begin this transition, I encourage you to search for people who can bridge this disconnect. When hiring for this position, it is critical to be clear about what you are looking for and to be direct about the associated role and primary responsibilities. Look for people who have bridged the transition before. Seek out those who can live and act in both the entrepreneurial world and the strategic thinking world.
Although this may sound like a simple process, it is not. However, when you do find that heavy hitter who can also speak and live ‘Entrepreneur,’ you will have found a winner.
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