A Founder Is (Not Always) A Leader: Walking The Talk Is So Much Harder Than It Sounds
At the end of the day, as a founder, you may be able to call yourself the CEO of your enterprise, but remember, titles don't make leaders; actions do
Are most entrepreneurs simply not cut out to be good managers? This is the question I found myself pondering after hearing yet another story of a MENA-based founder who treats their employees abysmally.
The specifics of the tale don't really matter, in my opinion- it is, quite simply, a classic example of people at the top taking advantage of those who are "under" them in the organizational hierarchy.
But after hearing quite a few stories like these from people working at startups in the region (many of whom, by the way, went on to leave those jobs), I am beginning to see that the inept leadership shown by the founders of these companies was a common element in all of these cases.
The entrepreneurs out there might find this a bitter pill to swallow, but the truth is that the founder of a company need not always have all the skillsets they need to lead it- and this is particularly true when a startup has moved past its launch and is ready to get started on its growth stage.
At this point, a founder's inability to govern their enterprise can prove to be extremely costly for the business- especially when it comes to the talent lost owing to bad leadership. It's been often said that access to (good) talent is a huge challenge for many entrepreneurs wanting to scale their enterprises in the MENA; however, I wonder if we should also be considering whether the talent available here are being linked with (good) leaders too.
Now, I'm not saying all of this to encourage some kind of uprising against the entrepreneurs running startups in the region- on the contrary, my purpose here is to remind founders to be self-aware, and be sure that they are doing everything they can to make themselves the best possible leaders of their respective businesses. And if you find yourself lacking in that department (trust me, you'd know if you are), take the steps to correct that- whether it is to teach yourself to be accountable, or to simply behave better.
After all, leadership isn't something you're born or bestowed with- it's something you need to learn. At the end of the day, as a founder, you may be able to call yourself the CEO of your enterprise, but remember, titles don't make leaders; actions do.