If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate.
– Richard Branson, British entrepreneur
Last month, we sent a message about managers working at the right level. This piece serves as an extension to that concept, as I know some CEO’s fall into the same category.
When I first started working as a consultant to entrepreneurs and their companies, some 16 years ago, there was a book that was required reading by my firm’s management- the E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber. This book is a cautionary tale that explains what the E (or Entrepreneurial) Myth is- that small businesses are started by entrepreneurs risking capital to make a profit.
In actuality, most businesses are started by technicians who have a fleeting moment (in the book, called an “Entrepreneurial Seizure”) where they want to be an entrepreneur because they simply love doing the work. They have no idea what it takes to run a business, and they become disillusioned because they end up doing everything else to run their business except the technical work. This is why so many businesses fail in the first 5 years- because the owners prefer the work to running the business. My most memorable example in the book shares the story of the woman who started a bakery because she loved baking pies, and ends up unhappy because the business needs have her doing everything except baking pies.
What are the most important Roles of a CEO?
This book tries to forewarn many would-be entrepreneurs, by ensuring they are starting a business because they want to run a business. As a start-up grows, the technicians are the easiest function to replace, and scale, with proper processes and procedures to follow. This book helps them to realize thatthe most important roles of a CEO are 1) to set the company vision and inspire their people to achieve it, and 2) to develop and protect the company’s culture.
If you’re a CEO who still loves being the technician, I will quote my good friend, Diana Greenwood, Owner of Aspire Executive Coaching, who’d say, “That’s not your job!” Get out of the weeds, let go of the day-to-day work and trust in others, so you can set the course. A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.