A friend recently tried to recruit me into a business he was invested in. It was in a market sector that I have absolutely no knowledge of and I felt uncomfortable with my lack of understanding of the firm and its products. I was told that collectively, the co-founders and the investors agreed that it was necessary to recruit a CEO capable of leading the firm to its next phase of growth. The board felt, and the co-founders agreed, that it was also necessary for the founders to stay focused on product design.
My friend said:
“First and foremost we want a great leader. We want somebody with a proven track record that can inspire the team to produce great products but knows that he needs the team to excel in order to do so. We want somebody that can sell, but knows he will never be as good a salesman as our head of sales. We want someone that is a good planner but can let go enough to allow the CFO to do what he’s good at. Mostly we want somebody that can set an achievable stretch plan and get consensus to achieve success. We need somebody that can attract future investors and can steer the ship into calm waters when the going gets rough. Deep domain knowledge is an unnecessary bonus”
Thinking about the statement my friend made, I realised the importance of letting go and allowing team members to do the jobs they are good at, the jobs they are paid to do. Aside from the sense of satisfaction they get from being trusted and from delivering great results, the firm can only grow if the team grows. Being a leader can sometimes be a solitary job but done well can be incredibly fulfilling.
I was deeply flattered to think that my friend saw those qualities in me. Right now, I have my own ship to steer into calmer waters… but you never know!