Why the Heck Can’t My Employees Think Like Me?

By Rick Cottrell, CEO, BizResults.com. Contact Cottrell at Rick@BizResults.com. Delivering Proven Systems with Simple, Practical Tools to Help Companies become more Profitable, Scalable and create more Value.

Recently, when meeting with one of my clients, I sensed some frustration. He explained that he was experiencing difficulty getting to a level of entrepreneurial freedom that allowed him time to work on his business instead of in it.

For this entrepreneur, the major frustration was determining who on the leadership team could step in and help him make it happen.

My client thought he had it all figured out. There was one shining star on his team, an individual who had all the signs of being “the one.” 

My client was so excited to finally focus and work on taking his business to the next level. He could spend more time with his family and his hobbies. He was pumped. The transition process was going great — smooth sailing.

Then, like a thunderstorm approaching in the distance, the flaws started appearing — little ones at first, which then became more frequent and noticeable. His hours spent in the business were increasing, he found scorecard errors, decisions were backlogging, organizational accountability was weakening and, worse yet, the company’s core values were eroding. It hit him like a certified letter from the IRS — this is not going to work. He had to go back to the drawing board.

He then asked the question, “Why the heck can’t my employees think like me?” 

I explained to him that because of my entrepreneurial experience and my findings working with cross industry companies, I understood that the problem is widespread and the primary disappointment lies in how a leadership team is put together.  In fact, after performing some research to determine how prolific this was, I discovered that 9 out of 10 entrepreneurial leaders are suffering from some variant of this dysfunction regardless of the business stage of growth.

Think about it: You start a business, it grows, you hire people, you decide it is time to work on your business to get it to the next level and, naturally, you expect your leadership team to then take the ball and run with it.  And, you guessed it, the people that helped you grow the business and now have the opportunity to replace you can’t do it. The people you thought could help you grow the company turned out to be employment-minded not ownership-minded.

This leads to a myriad of issues including frustration, self-doubt and a significant roadblock to the attainment of entrepreneurial freedom and achievement of maximum business success. 

For the purpose of trying to understand its significance, I created a behavioral assessment that included testing the why and how of a leadership team member, their specific core competencies and the entrepreneurial traits that would trigger an ownership mentality. I then overlaid the individual leadership team assessments against that benchmark. The results were eye-opening. 

Less than 30 percent of the leadership team members tested had the baseline entrepreneurial behaviors necessary to allow the entrepreneurial leader to transition to a state of autonomy where they could achieve the freedom to work on their business, have more personal time, vest themselves into other opportunities, etc.

I’m just scratching the surface here, but let’s face it: Entrepreneurs select their leadership teams very subjectively. Very few have an objective or analytical onboarding process. Unless you are lucky, this could lead to your company hitting the ceiling as well as dealing with significant organizational dysfunction and inefficiencies. If you wait too long, it can be disastrous.

This is such an interesting topic to me that I am moving forward with in-depth research to bring it to light. If you are an entrepreneurial business owner with a leadership team and want to jump on the research bandwagon with me, please email rick@bizresults.com and I will follow up to see if there is a fit.

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