June 12, 2023

Leaders, Are You Hindering The Growth Of Your Company?

By Monika Mueller

Softensity’s EVP Consulting Services and Head of LATAM Monika Mueller is a Forbes Technology Council member, and this article originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Sometimes self-realization is the hardest part of running a business. Sure, building a company from the ground up is difficult. And growing a business from one or two people to a team in the double or triple digits? Not easy. And, not a small accomplishment, either.

But this next part, when your business has plateaued and you’re ready to take it to the next level? Perhaps your biggest challenge yet, and not just logistically. Ceding control and bringing in the leadership that can help take your business to the next level takes trust, confidence and some difficult self-reflection.

But how do you know when it’s time to bring in leadership with the skills necessary to help your business break through its plateau? And how can you recognize if it’s actually you who may be standing in the way of your company’s growth? It’s difficult.

An Honest Self-Assessment

If you’re a leader or company founder that grew your organization from the ground up, you probably feel confident that you’re the person to shepherd it through the next level of growth. After all, no one knows your business better than you, from the electric bill to the balance sheets and everything in between.

Fair enough, but consider that growing your company from where you are today may require someone with expertise and experience where there are currently knowledge gaps.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Have I done this before?
  • Have I led an established company to double its size?
  • Am I doing something for the very first time?
  • Am I indecisive because I don’t have the experience to make the right decision?
  • Am I avoiding having to make difficult decisions?
  • Am I listening to what the people around me are trying to tell me?

Your answers here should give you a good idea if you may, in fact, be standing in the way of your company’s growth. But you alone shouldn’t carry the burden of determining how you’re doing as a leader.

Stay on Track with a Personal Board of Advisors

Like any employee, it’s crucial for business owners, CEOs, VPs and other executives to understand their strengths and weaknesses and develop a personal growth plan for themselves. Yes, even leaders need performance reviews—and a plan to continuously develop their skills.

As a business leader, it’s easy to become so consumed by the operations of your company that you’re constantly looking inward. How are you staying current in your field? Do you have an external reference point? A personal board of advisors that’s outside of your company can help you stay on track.

You need trusted advisors who will be honest with you, know what’s going on in the marketplace and can advise you on the decisions you have to make. They will keep you honest, help you maintain perspective and serve as a sounding board for the challenges you face. This honest outside perspective on your decision-making, strategy, personal development and growth as a leader is invaluable.

Bringing In The Leadership You Need

Once you’ve got the self-assessment piece of the puzzle down, you can extend it to your leadership and jointly assess the skills you currently have, and where you may need to bring in reinforcements. In order to push your business through the next level of growth, you’ll need to hire or outsource for any areas where there are gaps, be it sales, marketing, operations or beyond.

Bringing in the caliber of leadership you need to take your company to the next level is an investment you need to be willing to make. This can be expensive, but it’s a worthy investment in the long-term growth of your company, even if your profits take a hit in the short term.

Once you’ve committed to the investment, get the most out of it by taking a step back. It’s crucial that the ways of the past do not saddle new leadership, and that they have a clear understanding of the current state of the company. That means the good, the bad, and yes, the dysfunctional.

Equally important, clearly define objectives when you bring new leadership in. What are the specific goals, objectives and targets of the company? And how does the new hire’s role enable this vision? Clarity here will go a long way, as will building relationships with the key people the new hire will be working with.

Not Necessarily Goodbye

Making room for new leadership doesn’t have to mean stepping aside entirely. If you’re not quite ready to buy that boat and set sail for Fiji, there’s a place for you in the company—if you’re willing to embrace some change. You could become a board member as opposed to being the day-to-day leadership, or serve as the president and build a team around you that has experience taking companies from one level to the next.

There comes the point in most companies where it’s necessary to bring in people with the skill set necessary to take the company to the next level. Giving up any amount of control over a business you helped build requires a tremendous amount of self-realization, delegation and trust. It’s an emotional decision, but one that’s often standing between where your company is today and where you want it to be.


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