Leadership Distinction #18: Founder

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By all means, start something. Just don’t over-“do” it

The Starting a business is sheer boldness in action. Notwithstanding the large number of companies that are launched each year the world over it is still a rare breed of person who founds a business. We need this rare character. And it’s a good deal that is put at risk by these sources of business creation – time and treasure, obviously, but greater still — personal regard and reputation. 

As you know, start-up failure percentages run high. That’s the bad bit. Bad planning, bad ideas, bad observation, bad execution, bad management – bad luck. One or more of these ‘bad’s’ can easily do you in. But the most common reason for what does the Founder in is when the Founderdoes too much. That’s when things turn ugly.

It takes an exceptional doer with a compelling vision to start an enterprise. It also takes an exceptional leader, once the business is underway, to do only that which is necessary to set the standard for others to initially apply and follow, in any dimension of that business. And then, to step aside.

So we’ve got a good source of creators, a good deal put at risk by them, a slew of bad factors operating against, and the ugly truth that it’s damned hard to let go of the activities that got the business over the hump – and which, in the Founder’s mind — cannot possibly be done as well as numero uno.  Cue up the whistling audio from a famous spaghetti western movie.

The founder doesn’t need a gun belt, tattered black hat and a short cigar to get out of the impending trouble of doing too much. The Founder needs to lead. That means attracting followers to that great business idea worthy of taking on so much personal risk. That means guiding others to do the doing within the business. And that in turn could lead to founding yet another business. The good, the glad and the beautiful. 

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Episode 18