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How to Scale Your Role from Founder to CEO

February 07, 2022 3:50 PM | Cassandra CROSBY

 Most founders wonder at some point if they have what it takes to ascend in their role from founder to CEO. Regardless of their experience, as the company grows, so too do the requirements on their time, attention, and decision-making. Those founders who find themselves spinning from task-to-task can get so caught up in the day-to-day that they struggle to make complex business decisions. Successful founders scale their leadership and executive capacity as effectively as they scale their operational and commercial systems and processes.

All founders have CEO potential if they are deliberate about their growth.

Finding the white space for founders to think and determine where to scale (both individually and organizationally) can be almost impossible at an early-revenue stage. Those founders looking for accountability and structure to identify weaknesses, learn, and grow can partner with a certified executive leadership coach to help deliberately align their actions and behavior to achieve peak performance.  

This approach may sound nearly impossible given most founders’ frenetic schedules. But when founders keep themselves mired in the day-to-day, it can be difficult to figure out the next best decision for the company, much less find their blindspots. Instead, they may make decisions that add to the chaos and leave others wondering what comes next. 

For example, a founder caught up in the spin may determine it’s time to grow the sales force, only to later find out that production is unable to keep up with demand and even if they had the inventory, they lack adequate transportation to bring the product to market. The result is a lot of unhappy customers and a mess to clean up…quickly.

Executive Coaches Can Help.

Once sought after to address under-performance, executive leadership coaching is used today by executives all over the world to help enhance their impact. Even four-star generals have coaches, and why wouldn’t they? If both coach and client are committed, coaching has a significant return on investment as well as a whole host of benefits to both the founder, and their organization. 

The professional leadership coaching process helps founders create the mental white space and structure to be their own think tank, learn, and grow. Coaches help founders better understand their values by guiding them to gain clarity around what matters most - their “why,” and their mission, vision, and values. Through feedback, coaches help their clients see where their actions differ from their “why” and stated objectives, as well as recognize their individual and organizational blindspots. 

Coaches then help founders develop plans that result in transformational change and inculcate their vision and values into the fabric of the company culture. With that clarity, founders can improve hiring decisions, retention, and teamwork and communicate more clearly with stakeholders and customers who share their passion for their product or service.   

Another important benefit of leadership coaching is that it teaches founders a process for making intentional and well-informed decisions. Hasty decisions are avoidable when founders take the time to consider the bigger picture instead of jumping from one impulsive action to the next. By taking founders through a structured process of inquiry and exploration, a certified coach can help founders avoid decision making traps and develop and analyze a broad range of options. Once founders determine a particular course of action, a coach can guide them through implementation and contingency planning.  

Coaching helps Cultivate a Coaching Culture.

Additionally, being coached teaches founders how to coach and helps them model coaching for others. A coach helps founders empower decision making in the rest of the organization by modeling how to ask better questions, listen to understand the growing needs of the organization, and provide feedback to help others grow. Organizations with coaching cultures have increased employee engagement and collaboration, a growth mindset, and are better prepared for leadership succession.  

Lastly, coaching helps executives nurture a proactive rather than reactive company culture.  Staying ahead in today’s fast-paced market can be exhausting, particularly when founders find themselves caught off guard. Coaching helps executives focus on what’s most important, integrate new behaviors into the workplace that improve results, and take intentional steps to address barriers to success. An executive coach helps founders communicate more effectively and empower decision making at all levels of the organization, accelerating growth and product or service market fit.

The first years of company growth are critical to a company’s success, leaving founders under intense pressure to invest their time and resources wisely. Founders who grow their executive capacity and leadership skills while concurrently building operational and commercial systems cultivate a values-aligned culture and ensure the next time they wonder if they have what it takes, the answer is yes.

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