The Tension Of Entrepreneurial Risk-Taking

Entrepreneurs are hard-wired to start, build and move on. That’s what they do. A new idea, a new opportunity, that rush of excitement, and they’re on it.

But there’s a risk that comes with this action-oriented bias. That forward-moving entrepreneurial mind can underestimate what it takes to run the operation with excellence. By being focused on the next exciting adventure, you may not be optimizing the last one.

When the pace of the entrepreneur goes beyond the organization’s ability to operationalize it, systems start to overload, miscommunications crop up and details start to fall through the cracks. If the tendency to continually move forward and increase the excitement/adventure/risk quotient isn’t proactively managed, the result can be burnout of your original team, a leadership vacuum and eventually, a negative hit on your results.

Size also comes into play. When you have built a core team of 30 to 40 young guns in a bullpen, the owner has the capacity to direct and course-correct on a daily basis. With fast growth, organically or by acquisition, and more than 50 full time employees, that ability decreases quickly. And if the original team is promoted into new senior level leaderships roles, they often don’t have the maturity, the experience or the management expertise to handle it effectively.

The key then for these risk-oriented executives is awareness.

Awareness means cultivating strong relationships with your key people – making sure you are having honest, ongoing conversations about how they are doing and what’s needed as things change in the organization.  It means having the courage to go outside the organization to hire the next layer of talent if that is what’s called for – and it often is the best response. Promoting staff into positions beyond their management competencies is a frequent outcome of leaders hoping for the best and wanting to reward the blood, sweat and tears the existing team has put in.

By choosing to be awake to your own tendency to move on quickly to the next thing and the risks that are inherent in this dynamic, leaders can slow down enough to build in safeguards that protect their organization and enable them to continue to do what they do best: seek out new opportunities.

The key is to remember the power of synergy between communicating – to gain essential information from your team – and courage – to know when its time to hire your way to operational excellence.

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