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Monday, May 08, 2006

Changing CEO Leadership Styles

In an article called "CEO growing pains," Katherine Catlin, founder of the Catlin & Cookman Group, talks about how can you learn to make the right changes in your leadership style at the right time.

The premise:

  • Three distinct stages of growth mark an organization's evolution after it has passed through the start-up stage and has stabilized into a “real” company: Initial Growth, Rapid Growth, and Continuous Growth.
  • The “red flags” that signal the advent of a new stage of your company's evolution and that demand changes in your leadership to ensure continued success.
  • Your changing role and the key responsibilities you must assume if you are going to remain an entrepreneurial leader as your company grows through each stage of development.
  • The habits you must break and the personal transitions — specific changes in behavior and leadership style — you need to make to successfully take on each new role, growing from a founding entrepreneur into a great entrepreneurial CEO.

Click here for a chart of "The Evolution of Your Role as CEO."

Stage 1 Start-up, the time when you're trying to figure out what product or service to offer that fits market needs and what your company's real value will provide for its customers. Your role is Doer and Decision Maker.

Stage 2 is Initial Growth. In this stage your company is very sales driven, trying to launch a new or different product, trying to capture market share, and growing revenues. Company operations are fast-paced, highly flexible – even chaotic. People do whatever is necessary to be successful. Your leadership role needs to change to Direction Setter and Delegator.

Stage 3 is Rapid Growth. Here your company is trying to achieve widespread use of its products or services, gain a significant share of its chosen markets, ward off advances from competitors, and move into a market leadership position. Lots of new people need to be hired – rounds and rounds of them. Integrating them and aligning their efforts can be a daunting, never-ending task. In this stage, your role as leader changes to Team Builder, Coach, Planner and Chief Communicator.

Stage 4 is Continuous Growth which is comprised of successive rounds of turbulence and periodic “re-inventions” of the company. Rapid growth led to many more customers and market opportunities, a much larger employee base, a more complex organization, and the potential to dominate the industry. But more of everything also includes more potential to go out of control.

In Continuous Growth, the company tries to dominate the industry by finding new markets and growing new niches in the current market, expanding the product lines, providing more “total solutions” to help customers, and branding itself and its people as “thought leaders”. Growth strategies include new product development, strategic alliances, acquisitions and mergers, spinning off subsidiaries, corporate partnerships to provide funding, or even an Initial Public Offering. The critical leadership roles you must change to are Strategic Innovator, Change Catalyst, Organization Builder and Chief of Culture.

(Source: Excerpted from Leading at the Speed of Growth: Journey from Entrepreneur to CEO by Katherine Catlin and Jana Matthews)

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