You know how entrepreneurs are known for constantly having new ideas?
It’s that characteristic (combined with action) that empowered them to get their thing off the ground in the first place.
It’s also the characteristic that, as they grow, can drive their teams absolutely crazy!
I met a founder last week who had a unique perspective on this…
He had been a COO in the past working for a visionary CEO. The leader he reported to was a bottomless pit of new ideas.
Because he wanted to be a “good COO” and help his leader bring his vision to life, he did all he could to make the ideas happen. It wasn’t easy!
But as the new ideas kept coming and coming and coming, the team started burning out and losing interest. It’s hard to stay focused when your leader keeps changing what you should focus on. It’s hard to be motivated when your leader has moved onto the next “big thing” before you’ve finished the last “big thing.”
The founder I met last week and was talking to wanted to avoid doing this to his team.
Typically this can go one of three ways:
Way 1: The founder & CEO continues heaping piles of new new things onto the team for them to sort out. Then he just describes it as “fast paced” and “work hard play hard.”
The result is like a ship without a rudder. The engine runs at max speed at all times, but the direction is inconsistent. They rarely get where they want to go as a result.
Way 2: The founder & CEO recognizes the potential to overwhelm and burn out their team with new ideas. So they give the team permission to ignore the ideas and keep focusing on the tasks at hand.
The result is here is a bit confusing. There’s ambiguity around what to take seriously as vision and what to ignore and throw out.
Way 3: The founder & CEO wants to avoid overwhelming the team, so they suppress their visionary traits. The team isn’t overwhelmed and is much more focused, but the CEO has had to change who they are – which isn’t a great solution.
So what did I recommend he should do?
First things first, I do NOT recommend the Founder or CEO changing who they are. Their gift of vision and ideas is incredible. Don’t squash it!
Instead, the first step is to be very clear on the vision and mission of the company. Your job as the leader is to stand up and point to the horizon and lead your team there. I share my full plan in this weeks podcast (listen here).
With the vision clear, then gather your key team members and form a plan of attack. I often use the process outlined in Traction for this. Here’s the gist…
- What is your 3 year goal on the way to your vision?
- What is your 1 year target on the way to your 3 year goal?
- What do you need to do next quarter to reach your 1 year target?
If you’re intentional about this step ⬆️ and you’ve included your key team members in the process, then everyone leaves that meeting knowing what’s expected of them next.
Now when your next big idea comes your team is able to handle it!
If it’s not one of their objectives for the next quarter, then there’s nothing for them to do. They can continue working on their normal stuff without being distracted. As a BONUS, they can even enjoy discussing your new new thing with you without fear that it will turn into heaping piles of unclear tasks on their plate 😅.
Your new new thing goes on the list of things to consider at the next quarterly planning session (which I outlined above). Your team is there, your goals are clear, and everyone can decide together which ideas are worth tackling next.
This process allows everyone to work in their strengths. It ensures you have a powerful rudder, which means all of your engine’s power goes in the right direction.
And you, the leader, can thrive in your strength as a visionary!