Are you a hero?
In your life and career, you have encountered and practiced, a range of leadership styles. In our work transitioning founder-run businesses into professionally managed enterprises, we have found that most leaders can be grouped into two distinct categories that we call “heroic” and “post-heroic”. Which are you?
Self-reliance, stubbornness and determination are prerequisites to getting a new enterprise off the ground, so in the early stages, a “heroic” leader is just the thing; blazing a trail, leading the way and inspiring followers. The style is efficient, intuitive and highly effective.
It is a great irony then, that the leadership qualities that got a fledgling business launched are the very qualities that will limit its growth. "What got you here won't get you there" in the words of Marshall Goldsmith.
“Heroic” management is the work of a single actor, amplified by a staff of reactors; a dictatorship where the leader decides and dictates actions for others to carry out. This is our default notion of leadership and when we think of a strong leader, he or she is probably exercising this style.
In the “post-heroic” style, decisions and actions are made by a collective intelligence; a team of people properly motivated and coordinated to work effectively together.
This is a much less intuitive style of leadership and making this transition is difficult, but we think it absolutely critical to get beyond the "Tribal Limit" of about 150 individuals that both Dave Logan in “Tribal Leadership” and Malcolm Gladwell discuss in "The Tipping Point".
So, are you a hero? Or are you post-heroic?
Scott C. Lewis has 3 successful startups, 2 turnarounds and dozens of coaching and business development projects under his belt. In 30 years of tech entrepreneurship, he has developed product, sold, managed the sales process, developed and managed advanced manufacturing, support and distribution... all through effective teams.