Different modes of leadership are required to transition your company from inception to maturity. Broadly, you can split a company’s lifecycle into two phases – search and growth. At inception, a visionary entrepreneur is needed, with all the expected characteristics: bold, risk-taking, thrives on uncertainty, action-oriented, short attention span, and so on. These characteristics, for better or worse, are what allow a company to discover a repeatable and sustainable way to make a profit.
However, the game changes drastically after you nail your business model. Once this happens, the business enters a growth phase, which requires a manager instead of an entrepreneur. While the entrepreneur searches, the manager refines. The growth mode is much more methodical, process oriented, and predictable. The typical entrepreneur usually scores negatively in all of these areas, and can actually hurt the company’s prospects.
Rare is the founder who can lead effectively in both entrepreneur and manager modes. They call for completely different skills and temperaments. And the stakes are high – transitional mistakes are usually company killers. Consequently, many experienced founders would rather hand over the reins to a professional management team and start over again with a new company. Isn’t that the fun part anyway?