You have a brilliant idea for an innovative product that’s going to throw the travel industry on its head. Your buddy from school and your cousin is in on the venture and you’re off on a good start. You feel secretly proud of yourself and protective of your team. While these sentiments are commendable, they should not be allowed to cloud your judgement. Specifically, as founder and CEO watch out for the following ‘emotion’ traps.
1. Don’t be too precious
Don’t be so precious about your business idea or any of its core parts that it blinds you to its limitations in a changing environment. What is brilliant today, may be obsolete tomorrow or usurped by the next great breakthrough.
Remember Kodak? Did you know that the company actually invented the first digital camera, but failed to market the new technology because it feared digital would harm its lucrative film business? This story of failure is the story of a company that failed to adapt to a new marketplace and changing consumer attitudes. Kodak was too deeply committed to film to appreciate the threat of digital.
Agility in business is paramount. Being religiously entrenched in a business model, marketing strategy, technology platform or supply chain can blindside you.
2. Co-workers are not family
Coming up with a great idea, perfecting the pitch and snagging the funding is a high that creates a special bond between the people who worked together to make it all happen. It’s not uncommon to feel deeply indebted to your co-creators, but you can’t treat them like family. Families protect each other, and resent leadership roles of siblings. In a business environment, this leads to tolerating poor performance from some members and dysfunctional leadership relationships.
Caring about the people you work with is commendable and right, but it shouldn’t affect rational business decisions. Employee actions and attitudes that don’t support the business can torpedo it. Keep that focus and make business decisions based on facts.
3. Keep your ego out of it
While a certain amount of pride is appropriate, strutting around, feeding your own sense of importance is counterproductive to say the least. As CEO and founder your duty is to your investors, customers, employees, suppliers and society at large. If that means that there is someone else better qualified to serve all stakeholders, you should be willing make the hard decision to step aside and let someone else take the lead.
Let the fact that you can’t sail a boat through rough seas on your own, inform your perspective and appreciate the input of the other smart people around you.
4. Saying “no” won’t make you enemies
Most people don’t want to hear or say “no”. That is because the word has emotional baggage for most of us. Hearing it is interpreted as rejection and saying it carries with it the fear of creating conflict. It takes emotional maturity to assess the situation, weigh the facts and say “no” to a request in a manner that doesn’t jeopardize a relationship. Giving an explanation for your answer goes a long way in letting the person see the bigger picture and understand your response. Know when to say “no”. It also sets limits and earns respect if done judiciously.
5. Making empty promises
Not being able to say “no” can lead to many unwanted consequences, one of them making promises that you can’t keep. A large order may be fantastic, but if you know you can’t deliver, don’t say that you can. Make sure your whole team understands this. It’s better to be clear on what you are able to deliver than to sound as if you can move mountains. Remember, if it sounds too good, it probably is and most people know that. Being realistic about what you can do now, stating it and keeping to it, builds trust, which in the long run will give you loyal customers.
6. Treat employees as responsible adults
You may be the founder and CEO, but don’t manage your people in a way that they feel they need your permission before they can act. Give everyone accountability and let them get on with it the way they see fit. Companies that allow employees latitude and freedom to do their work get things done and tend to perform better. And they mostly don’t have problems with staff turnover.