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Beware the Mid-Year Urge To Revamp Your Strategic Plan

Leaders Evaluate Idea FirstHard to believe we are looking at the second half of 2015! That means it is time to review your strategic plan and your business plan.

Not a multi-day, multi-hour exercise

The mid-year review is not like the process you go through when you are setting up your strategic plan for the year. In the yearly planning process, you are looking at a longer horizon since it includes where you are going to be in three to five years. Within the overall strategic plan, there is a section for the year-long goals and aspirations. This is the part that you are reviewing in the mid-year meeting. The information from the living business plan lets you know if everything is on target.

Temptation lurks here

 Part of the role of CEO is to keep an eye out for opportunities. It is likely that as you go forward with your growth plan, you spot possibilities. The other side of this is when targets are not being met and it seems as if the plan is not working. One temptation is to chase the possibilities. The other temptation is to ditch the plan and make a new one.

Thinking shortcuts could interfere with effective decision making

It cannot be said enough…do your homework. We have a tendency to seek out information that corresponds with our thinking. While it does work in our favor because we can filter through the noise and get the data we need. It can also work against us when we allow ourselves to discount information because it does not fit in with our beliefs.

There are a few ways you can circumvent this so you and your team can make a grounded decision:

    • Involve your team. Have someone else do the research on your great idea. Another set of eyes, particularly from one of your team members, is a good way to sift through your own biases and hear what is possible and probable.
    • Do a quick pros and cons list. This can be a useful way to find out what you know and don’t know. It highlights if you have enough capital, in-house expertise and resources. By keeping it quick, it supports telling yourself the truth and what needs more research.
    • Know what your siren’s call sounds like.We all have areas that get us excited. It might be working internationally, noticing market trends, certain subjects that are our expertise or something else that you would love to do more of. Like Odysseus, tie yourself to your mast by reminding yourself that there is an agreed-upon plan in place. This also prevents you  from undermining your team.
    • Use a coach or mentor. Conversations with either a coach or mentor can help you hear your thinking. Plus you get the added bonus of questions that provoke deeper thinking.

Most small to mid-sized businesses do not have the level of capital, talent or other resources to go off the plan without running the risk of harming or even killing themselves. The idea may end up having merit and fits with the overall strategic plan. On the other hand, it might be simply the heat of the moment and adding some logic to the decision process illuminates this.

Creativity and science

Leaders who are creative foster the same in their organizations. It is a bit like the scientific process. Your idea is like a hypothesis. The testing part is much like running a scientific experiment. The four suggestions above show if the idea is possible and fits in with the overall direction of the company. The idea is to not stop seeking out new possibilities or even making necessary adjustments. It is simply to keep the temptation of revamping the year-long strategic plan simply based on a gut response.

*Image from Fotolia by densismagilov



Why Transparency Supports Healthy Organizational Culture

transparency, organizational culture, small to mid-sized business, business owner, CEOSome of you may know that I host the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz every Friday (you can read about our more recent conversations here) and often there are interesting lessons or insights that come from the live chat. As someone who coaches business owners and executives to become better leaders, a healthy organizational culture is often a topic or very near the surface.

But what is organizational culture?

For the small to mid-sized companies I work with, culture is often the expression of the business leader. Since small to mid-sized companies are more compact and connected than larger corporations,  it is easier for the business owner/ CEO to express to everyone how he/she wants things to be and, in growth organizations, to become. That means values and behaviours are obvious and the meanings and purposes of these values and behaviours is idiosyncratic to that company. As an example, one of my clients makes it a point to be available for face to face conversations, ask questions  and share a lunch with everyone once a month. Another client in a bigger organization believes in hiring smart people  and he lets them know his expectations and then gets out of the way for the day-to-day execution of these expectations. He is doing what he is good at and, consequently, so are his employees.

Transparency and culture

You may have heard a lot of discussion about transparency in various places. According to the Business Dictionary, transparency is

“Lack of hidden agendas and conditions, accompanied by the availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation and collective decision-making. [Also as definition] Minimum degree of disclosure to which agreements, dealings, practices, and transactions are open to all for verificaton.”

One would think that smaller organizations would have less machinations and hidden agendas than their larger counterparts but politics are everywhere.

What could possibly go wrong?

Most small companies operate in a clear and legal manner. But there can be some pitfalls or unforeseen consequences when corporate culture stems from the leader as alleged actions by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his administration are being reported. Now the temptation is to say that politicians are corrupt anyway but I remember working for a doctor who would lose his temper in such a dramatic fashion and belittle others that people were literally afraid to speak up in meetings. Consequently, this small organization had high turnover, backbiting amongst colleagues and absolutely no faith that your immediate boss would ever back you if you needed it.

But there are other things to consider:

  • Lack of common definition of privacy and discretion: (thank you to Lois Martin for highlighting this) With multiple generations in the workplace, privacy and discretion have morphed over time and it is up to the leader(s) to clearly state what clients and the public can know about the company. This can be also seen as professionalism.
  • We live and work online: There are risks and responsibilities as this McKinsey report discusses. Cybersecurity is an issue for all businesses, regardless of size.
  • People may bring a negative perspective from their previous employer: As you grow, you hire new people and they bring all of their experiences, good and bad, with them. Their stories may color how they share information, show intiative or handle disappointment in your organization.
  • Euphemisms: Transparency depends on people saying what they mean. If you are “demising” jobs, let people know to expect their job may be eliminated.
  • Consistent ethical code: Transparency is really an encapsulation of certain values — respect, integrity, honesty — and if you are cutting corners, your employees will cut corners and this, ultimately,  affects attracting and retaining your customers

When you stop to think about it, it brings up all sorts of questions about organizational culture, individual behaviour choices and the validity of an ethical professional code.

What could go right?

Of course, there is always another side. Part of the most recent discussion about transparency are the advantages it gives to businesses. Small to mid-sized businesses may have been onto this for some time. Quite often you know your customers by name and understand how important that “know, trust and like” factor can be.

  •  Differentiation is clear: While you have much in common with your competitors regarding customer service or even type of product or service you offer, your words and actions, source of materials, vendors and clear wording on policies (without the super fine print) and procedures invites trust.
  • Happier employees: If you have ever worked for a boss who was tough and fair, you worked for a leader who was transparent in his/her expectations.  A 2013 TINYpulse employee satisfaction survey reported that transparent managers had a “correlation coefficient 0.94 with employee happiness.” Good management fosters better morale and productivity.
  • More accurate information about what customers like/dislike: Open, two-way communication with your customers enables better data gathering on what your customers buy from you and what sorts of improvements are most desired.
  • Clear internal communications: When the business owner/CEO takes the time to listen and interact, it becomes clear that the whole organization is supposed to listen and interact.
  • Supports accountability: When the decision-making process engages both the leaders and those assigned to executing the business goals, it is easier to know why a goal was chosen, who will do the work and when it is scheduled to be completed.

Transparency helps you develop a healthier organizational culture

It does take some work and maybe even retraining on your part to become more transparent. On the  other hand, having the ability to know who works for and with you simply provides an excellent foundation for transparency. On that you can build out how the values of honesty, respect, integrity and professionalism will be expressed in your culture.

What reasons do  you believe that transparency is important in a small to mid-sized business?

When could transparency harm your small to mid-sized business?

How much transparency is needed to develop a healthy organizational culture?



Boost Your Strategic Planning With Game Theory

Strategic planning, game theory,This post started when I read the Forbes post how aspiring CEOs can prepare for the top job. Joel Trammel recommended that budding leaders learn about game theory. Since the number one job of CEOs (and managing directors) is to make decisions, familiarity with game theory can be a useful tool in strategic planning.

Very basic definition of game theory

While some of game theory makes for dry reading, it is intriguing in its business applications. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, game theory is “the study of the ways in which strategic interactions among economic agents produce outcomes with respect to the preferences (or utilities) of those agents, where the outcomes in question might have been intended by none of the agents.” In essence, it is the idea that people and organizations take into consideration benefits and risks to make decisions on what they perceive to be in their best interest. It is important to remember that there is an assumption of rational thought behind the process and decisions within situations of competition, conflict, cooperation and interdependence. Game theory is often associated with decision theory.

Game theory and strategic planning

It’s important to not get too hung up on the word, game, when looking at this theory. As you know, much of what you do as leaders of your organizations is handle uncertainty. With strategic planning, it is a guessing game to some extent. You have a vision of where you want to bring your company over the coming year and you have some information about the market you operate in. One of the key things to remember is that you are making decisions with your team regarding the future and these are not made in a vacuum or in isolation. Game theory encourages one to know the variables and to be cognisant that the business is operating in a dynamic environment.

How do you make game theory work for you?

To identify potential avenues for your strategic plan,  there is some information which will highlight the variables:

  • Experience. Very simply put, what did you learn this year? Mistakes, near-misses and gains are all lessons for you and your team to use.
  • Feedback from your staff. One of my clients was telling me this week that his staff has asked him to get out of the nitty gritty. They want him to take time to follow through on goals that were set already, work on his leadership skills and tell them what his next set of expectations are. In other cases, you might hear information about customers, new contacts and other opportunities.
  • PESTEL Analysis. This analysis (learn more about PESTEL) allows you to identify more specifically what is going on in the environment outside of your business. That means everything from politics, social change or industry regulations become more clear in its relationship to your company.
  • SWOT Analysis. This is a smaller picture than the PESTEL analysis but still provides information about what is currently going on in your business.
  • Identify the assumptions underlying all of the opinions put forth. We’re all susceptible to making assumptions. There is a tactic called the 5 Why’s. Simply asking “why” can  illuminate the information gaps, biases and faulty thinking.
  • Challenging/upsetting the current system. Using the 5 Why’s is one way to challenge the system. Keeping yourself and your staff fresh is simply done by asking open-ended questions with an attitude of curiosity. Doing things differently might not mean you’re introducing a new product or service, it might be how work and communication gets done internally.

By taking a look at all of these, you gain information about potential opportunities, risks, trends, outside events that influence your business and much more information. Then you can identify various scenarios and how your strategic plan can flex in response.

 Your strategic plan does more than provide the roadmap for the coming year

While you and your team do need to identify the goals, the steps and the responsible person for the coming year, there is more. Underlying each yearly strategic plan is the overall aim for the company over a period of five, ten or more years. Using game theory in the strategic planning process gives you alternative scenarios so that you are more able to anticipate the turbulence and dynamic quality of the business environment.





Dilemma of Wanting to Be CEO and Future of Social Entrepreneurship

Some of you might have seen these posts on and but if you haven’t, allow me to share them with you.

When Your Small Business Isn’t Ready For You to Be CEO

You may have seen some of my previous posts here since I’ve been a regular blogger since 2009. It’s not an unusual situation for a small business owner to be ready for the next stage of his/her career but feel they have to put the brakes on their activities because the business needs their direct attention. When Your Small Business Isn’t Ready For You to Be CEO talks about the dilemma small business owners face when they cannot move to the next stage of their own growth. So, when is your small business not ready for you to be CEO? And how do you prepare it so it is ready?

Latest Ideas of the Future of Social Entrepreneurship

On a weekly basis, I host the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz. (If you would like to see what this lively, thought-provoking and international chat is like, please join us every Friday at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT) We talk about all kinds of business ideas using critical thinking so we can enhance our skills and deepen our self-understanding. So this past week, we took a look at Social Entrepreneurship.

If you are not familiar with social entrepreneurship, it is is a subset of entrepreneurship with the emphasis on using business to drive a social change. It is not simply corporate social responsibility. It is a company that is founded with the intent to change the world. The 10th annual Skoll World Forum was held recently and there are some interesting ideas emerging. We decided to take a closer look with this framing post, Latest Ideas of the Future of Social Entrepreneurship. Do you see social entrepreneurship becoming more mainstream? What expectations are being created for social entrepreneurial ventures in terms of sustainability, creating customers and earning profit?

Let me know what you think by commenting here or on the posts themselves…


Who Gets To Manage Change in SME’s?

Imagine this scenario:managing organizational change

As owner/CEO of a small company, you and your team have been coping with difficult economic pressures but it’s clear that keeping the business afloat isn’t enough. There is enough revenue from existing customers to pay overhead and salaries. However, developing new products has been slow and it’s clear to you that the current business model is unsustainable, particularly if the economy goes into another recession.

Earlier in the year, you and your team hashed out what the ideal customer looks like. It’s clear to you, as the leader, that the organization is going to have to change if you work with this ideal customer. When you try to have this conversation with your staff, Jane expresses concern that the easygoing collegial feeling will go away and it will feel “just like any other business.” Bob wants to know what your vision is and why it has to change now. He asks, “It’s all well and good that we’ve identified that we want to work with Big Firm in Nearby City but what’s wrong with our current customers?” Other staff members say nothing. Fred has made it clear that he thinks you are nice but too unrealistic to take the company to a more sophisticated stage.

Making this transition isn’t easy for anyone.

As anyone who has led a business will tell you, there has to be a process to managing change or the organization will become (more) dysfunctional. In larger organizations, it is easier to assign roles and tasks to the C-level team. However, in smaller organizations, the process is much more intimate.

Basic model of managing organizational change

1. What needs to change? Without identifying what is outdated, wrong or broken, there is no compelling pain or impetus to do something new.

2. Why now? Making changes without a reason is basically shooting an arrow into the wind and hoping it hits the target.  There are so many other questions to ask but it can be summed up as “why is it important now?”

3. What is getting in the way? These barriers can be internal and external. People’s attitudes, market conditions and a host of other things can be obstacles.

4. How can we overcome these barriers? Identifying the strengths of the organization and the individuals involved can provide solutions to removing any obstacles. Couple this with identifying weaknesses and figuring out ways to manage or eliminate these and you will find people are more likely to cooperate.

5. Measuring the change process. Like everything else about your SME, how do you know if it is working? Taking the time as a team to set up milestones gives you two benefits. First, change is big and you’re not going to make it all happen overnight. One step at a time is a good perspective. Second, you can adapt the plan as needed to make the change process successful for everyone.

But…we’re back to our original question. Who gets to manage change in SME’s?

In the opening paragraph, I gave you a scenario. It’s actually a composite of the change projects I’ve done with my coaching clients. Time and time again,  identifying which person will inhabit specific roles, who facilitates the process, who has ultimate responsibility and availability of unanimous support for the change project are essential.

What did you notice about this organization in the scenario?

If you were the leader, what kind of conversation would you have with your team? Why?

When would the business owner/CEO of an SME not be ultimately responsible for a change project?

What level of responsibility would you assign to the team members and/or employees?

When is it most beneficial to bring in a consultant/coach to assist with the change project?


This was a topic on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz (formerly #KaizenBlog) on Friday, September 2nd. Please consider yourself invited to join our discussion. If you can’t make the chat, add your comments, thoughts and opinions here.

 *I wanted to cite who created the drawing used as a graphic for this post. However, I wasn’t able to find the origin of the drawing. I found it on the site for the Christ Church Northern Beaches. My apologies to the artist.

About the author:  I’m Elli St.George Godfrey, executive coach and trainer who guides established small to mid-sized business owners and executives to be comfortable in their own skin. Change can be growing your business, expanding in the US or adapting to a new leadership roles. Visit my Services page to see how we can work together or schedule your complimentary coaching session here.


How Do You Define “CEO”?

Small Business Owner Becoming CEOIt’s always interesting asking small business owners to imagine themselves with different titles and words. In a recent in-person presentation about the CEO Mindset, I asked what words or phrases mentioned came to mind in reference to “CEO”:

  • Chief executive officer
  • Buck stops here
  • Boss
  • Money
  • Big
  • Big desk
  • Big company
  • Coordinator
  • Most responsible
  • Overseer
  • Headaches
  • Me
  • Mentor
  • Out of touch
  • Working too many hours
  • Them
  • Creative Force
  • Leader

 So, what would Twitter folk say? Granted I was asking my followers so it’s not entirely random. However, you never know who is on and if they see what’s in your stream.

Barney Austen: Leader, Driving Force

Derek Edmond: Leader & vision

Celtic Seas: Most important role in an organization with or without a board

Gnosis Arts: leader, chief stakeholder

What does it mean to act as if you are the CEO of your small business?   With all of the different models of how to be a CEO, it make sense that some small business owners feel ambivalent about embracing or rejecting the title as CEO. If you look at larger corporations, you can see everything from criminal to inspirational. However, leading a small business is much more intimate. It is as likely that you will use your technical expertise while you are monitoring the greater organizational needs in any given day.

How about you? What words do you associate with the title of CEO?

What would happen if you chose to consider yourself as CEO of your small business?




But I’m Not a CEO

When you think about yourself as a small business owner, do you think of yourself as the chief executive officer of your organization? Surprisingly for many, the thought just doesn’t even enter their minds. The strangest part of this is that the responsibilities are very similar.  Sure the scale of the business is different but take a moment to think. What do you really do as leader of your company?

 Take a look at this comparison and see if it sounds familiar:

CEO Responsibilities

Small Business Owner Responsibilities

Sets the vision and tone of what “X Company” is all about


Articulates vision (and, often, the mission) of what the small business is all about

 Designs and explains the strategy  of how the business will develops  and grow over time


Designs a strategic plan/action plan that includes product/service development as well as marketing

Seeks out the talent to make the above happen


Often connects with complementary professionals in network, hires consultants/contractors or employees to meet the goals set in the above

Keeps everyone accountable to the stated business goals


Sets up an accountability system with a peer, mentor, mastermind group or coach for own performance; Maintains consistent contact with complementary professionals, consultants/contractors or employees as accountability measure

Makes sure that revenues (and    even profits) are healthy


Knows “cash is king” so makes sure revenues are stable, growing and making a profit

 Still think you’re not a CEO?

For some people, it feels too grandiose. Maybe you’re a sole proprietor or it just sounds like it ought to be in a boardroom of a Fortune 500 company. That would be a mistake! Businesses succeed when there is someone dedicated to planning and executing the business goals. Sure, there aren’t always other managers that will implement your strategy. And sometimes the business owner has to act as technical expert.

It’s not about the size of your organization.

Nope, it’s not about size or even your business structure. It’s not even about putting those three letters under your name. It’s about having the CEO Mindset. Small business owners who realize that they are more than simply the worker bee are better positioned for challenges and opportunities.

There three things that they do well:

  1.  They understand and accept that their business is a separate entity.
  2. They make time to imagine and plan for the next quarter, the next six months, 1 year or beyond.
  3. They take care of themselves with solid advisors, healthy diet and rest.

How many of these things are you already doing?

You sure you’re not a CEO?


CEO Mindset? Permission Granted

CEO of small businessCould you give yourself permission to think like a CEO for your small business? Even if you are a sole proprietor, could you? This may be the single most important action you could do for your small business.

Take a moment to think about what a CEO does for an organization:

1. Sets the vision and tone of what “X Company” is all about

2. Designs and explains the strategy of how the business will develop and grow over time

3. Seeks out the talent to make the above happen

4. Keeps everyone accountable to the stated business goals

5. Makes sure that revenues (and even profits) are healthy

So, why is it so hard to think of oneself as CEO? This comes up a lot in my coaching with small business owners. Perhaps it’s got something to do with our images of CEO’s in large corporations. What comes to mind for you? What if I told you that’s a red herring? Size doesn’t matter. It’s about the mindset. It boils down to giving yourself permission to treat your business seriously. But I am serious, you say? Take a look at your vision for your business. Does it involve you becoming an industry leader, serving a national or even global market, or allowing you to move to your dream home? This can be scary stuff. It scares me sometimes too when I look at what I want to do with my business. We talk ourselves out of even attempting to realize our potential. It brings up stuff we learned as kids about thinking grander thoughts and upsetting the status quo. So, it’s safer to spend our time on the small, everyday tasks serving our current clients and the administrative to-do list. But safer is an illusion.

But really…is it okay to go for what we desire most? You can’t get there from here without giving yourself permission to be the leader.  I asked one of my clients to write down her vision for her small business as coaching homework. As I encouraged her to write down the details of what she wants, even to be ridiculously, over the top in her description, I could hear her laughing nervously. Another client gets fidgety when we talk about how important it is to be more consistent and clear with changing policies to support the new direction of his business. Sure, if you aren’t taking care of the big picture, your small business will lack focus and be less effective.  But there is more at stake here. If you aren’t giving yourself permission to think like a CEO, how will you make your dreams an everyday reality? What would you feel like if nothing changes and you never achieve your goals?

Would it be acceptable to deny yourself permission to have a CEO mindset? Can you live with that?



Hey Small Business Leader, We’re Watching You!

Leadership depends on so much more than technical skill. This theme has been echoing over and over recently in my work with my clients and in my reading. Sure, the small business owner has to act like a CEO. In other words, be able to know the nuts and bolts of how the business operates, use good communication skills, set the vision and mission, facilitate the overall strategy with the executive team, foster the corporate culture, nourish an entrepreneurial mindset, and model good  management skills. But it’s not how skilled you are at taking financial statements and turning them into a strategic plan that people remember most. It’s who you are. It’s the intangible skills that use emotional intelligence that makes your business hum or whimper. It always comes back to your values, your ability to connect, and your behavior. In other words, character.

In a small business, leadership can be a potent combination of petri dish and crucible. It takes a highly confident person to lead a small business, particularly through times of change. Employees see you for the person you are as there are fewer layers in the organizational chart.It can be daunting to make strategic plans that include products or services that have never been done by your company before. Given the recession that Studying your leadershipstarted in 2008 and the current “will it/won’t it” recovery of the economy, some of you have been faced with letting go of people who have been part of your company. If you’re feeling like you are on the hot seat, well…

You are being watched. No, this is not a good time to get paranoid, however tempting. Your team, your board, your employees, and your community are watching you for inspiration and results. They want you to be successful. John C. Maxwell in the tenth edition of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership writes “To build trust, a leader must exhibit competence, connection, and character.”

One bad example-There is a small business leader I know who has an amazing ability to infuriate people. She runs a successful business and her immediate staff speak highly of her. However, in business networking groups and other community organizations, she acts in a way that makes it so hard to volunteer with her. She demands allowances for personal issues, says she will do something but does not follow through, and gossips about other people behind their backs.

One good example-Another small business owner I know goes out of her way to foster positive relationships with her clients and her staff. Somehow she almost always finds time to talk and catch up with someone. There are stories of her sending people home when they are ill or have a family issue to deal with and acting as their substitute. Her postitive attitude and boundless energy are infectious and she is instrumental in mentoring small business owners. She is always on the lookout for new ideas that will improve her skills, enhance what her business offers, and support the growth of other small business owners.

Both of these small business owners appear successful on the surface. Which example is most like you? Aren’t there enough dysfunctional organizations out there? Most leaders don’t take on their roles because they feel it is necessary to denigrate others nor do they aim to seem indecisive and fearful. What about you?

How do you want to be seen?

What are you doing that keeps you consistent with your values and intentions?

What (or who) keeps you honest as you develop your leadership skills?



Just One of Those Awkward Moments of New CEO’s

One of my clients started his coaching session this week declaring he had a personnel issue. (For the sake of confidentiality, I’m leaving out some of the details.) Basically it was that awkward dynamic that can arise when you shed your old role of “Senior Technician of (your expertise)” and start the transition into new role of CEO of a small business. (Even when you don’t have the title of CEO, you may be acting like a CEO as your business grows and becomes more sophisticated.)

She said no…

It turns out that the conflict has been brewing for some time and came to a head last week. In a nutshell, the employee flatly told my client who is founder/owner/budding CEO that she was not going to do something he told her to do. He asked her to review a presentation with him as she hadn’t shown him the final version and they would co-presenting the following day. That’ s when she said no. She has a long history with this business both as a contractor and an employee so this was not what my client expected.

 What gives?

Yes, it’s possible that he asked in a way that sounded rude or arrogant. But what if he didn’t? (And for the purpose of this post, let’s suppose he was professional in his manner.) Many people in startups understand you all pitch in together to make a go of the business. There are titles but things have to be done. And then the business stabilizes and starts growing. Roles change and people have more defined job descriptions.

These changes can be deeply unsettling. Relationships are different. When the owner/founder steps into a role that demands more leadership and management skills, the interpersonal dynamics are different. There can be a disconnect between longtime staff and new hires. There can be a disconnect between the transitioning CEO and longtime staff and, frankly, sometimes new CEO’s don’t handle the interpersonal stuff with tact or sensitivity.

Can this mess be cleaned up?

Truth is, not always. Things are sometime said that can’t be unsaid. I’ve heard horror stories of people screaming at each other, lawsuits being threatened, filed, or acted upon, and new CEO’s getting forced out when the board gets fed up with the drama and lack of positive growth.

But if you can anticipate the mess, perhaps you can clean up the mess before it goes nuclear:

  • Know your limits. Not every founder is CEO material. You may know your story, your Big Idea, and not have the management or leadership skills to pull it off. Be honest with yourself about whether you are really the right one to be leading the organization as it moves into the next stage.
  • Notice what you resist. It is common for founders/CEO’s to resist setting up systems and policies as well as delegate responsibilities. There is a belief that one can still fly by the seat of one’s pants. You’ve worked too hard to grow a solid business with a bright future. Sure you can form a culture that you see as beneficial to productivity but the organization has grown larger than you. It needs a thoughtful, strategic, mature leader.
  • Talk to the longtime staff. These people may be your executive team or employees. Long-standing relationships need a different kind of attention and nurturing. Let them know clearly that you are learning to inhabit a different role, your behaviors will be different, and your communication style will change. If they feel resentful because they perceive you as egotistical or arbitrary, they could undermine your authority and relationships with new hires and affect productivity. Your small business is too small to absorb a lot of dysfunction. You will not be their pal or peer like you were during the startup phase. It is important that they know what to expect.

How do you handle the awkward dynamics of becoming a CEO of a small business?

 What tips would you give to a budding CEO transitioning out of startup phase?