Don't Let Your Big Personality Stand in the Way of the Startup's Success

Instead of delegating tasks and mentoring staff, some entrepreneurs forget to train. Innovation and success are stifled.

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By Tom Sult • May 19, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There's the old saying that you hand a man a fish, he eats for one day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. Entrepreneurs are very good at doing all the fishing themselves but often fail miserably at teaching the art of fishing to their staff.

By hogging the rod for themselves, entrepreneurs limit the number of successful catches for the day and deprive employees of a critical skill set. Though rivers and streams are plentiful and capable men and women are yearning to learn the technique, entrepreneurs stifle the success of their teams, creating a very destructive cycle in the workplace.

As innovators and creators, entrepreneurs may possess a unique personality and psychological composition. Many entrepreneurs believe that they can do things that others say cannot be done and are willing to risk everything to discover new territory. Like Christopher Columbus and Sir Edmund Hillary, modern-day entrepreneurs believe they know things that others don't. They trust themselves more than they trust others.

Some entrepreneurs wield this type of thinking and their big personalities to build a tenacious startup. When these characteristics are left unchecked, however, the entrepreneurs can become a force that might destroy the very stability of their companies.

Related: When Ego Is the Enemy

Some business owners become poor managers of their projects. Rather than efficiently delegating tasks, they simply abdicate responsibility. Instead of assigning tasks and then granting staff authority to complete the task, entrepreneurs tend to dump responsibility on employees without providing a clear description of their vision or letting employees to take necessary ownership of that task and without providing the needed mentorship. It's a recipe for disaster, and entrepreneurs' dissatisfaction with the results stems from their own poor management. There's a need for less abdicating and more delegating.

How can the the big personality, adrenaline-amped ambition and precisely specific vision of the entrepreneur be harnessed to funnel through a company and produce a stunning output? Entrepreneurs must be engaged in a highly interpersonal examination of their behavior, without letting things get too personal. Here are the components:

Related: How to Be an Effective Mentor

1. Recognize a leader's impact. Entrepreneurs need to put down the Red Bull. Yes, they have created something out of nothing. They are indeed very capable human beings. Now they must recognize that their strongest skill set, which made them successful, can also make them destructive.

Business owners need to recognize that their job as managers can be done more effectively by properly delegating tasks, shepherding staff during a project's evolution and encouraging team members to be visionary partners rather than a hive of worker bees. With this employee-employer dynamic, creation and innovation can flow.

Related: Collaborating Is a Waste of Time If It Falls Into These 4 Traps

2. Think about structure. A company can function as either a single supercomputer or a giant farm of parallel processors. Under the supercomputer model, the company grows only as large as allowed by the power of one computer, namely the entrepreneur. In this scenario, the company can never be larger than this boss.

On the other hand if the leader takes the time, effort and energy to mentor employees and create a bevy of visionary partners, the farm of parallel processors can grow far larger than the entrepreneur's thinking alone. With mentorship and delegation of responsibility and authority, visionary partners can take a company from reactive growth to proactive growth.

Related: Onboarding Essentials: What Really Matters to New Employees (Infographic)

3. Don't lose opportunities for mentoring. When a pupil accidentally chips a perfectly crafted nose of a marble bust, should the master sculptor yell and scream and seize the student's tool? No, because as the mentor, the sculptor recognizes the importance of his or her role as a guide and counselor.

Entrepreneurs who can offer their team a mentoring approach are bound to see exponential growth in their company. If employees are given clear instructions, the freedom and authority to learn and tackle a project, and direct and honest feedback upon completion, they are set up, by their superior, to succeed.

By finding a healthy balance, where ambition is harnessed and responsibility delegated, the effectiveness of the whole team can soar.

Entrepreneurs, hand over the rod and bait. Fellow fishermen, set out and test the currents!

Related: 8 Tasks You Should Delegate Today

Tom Sult
Dr. Tom Sult practices medicine at 3rd Opinion in Minneapolis. He serves as a medical educator and inspirational speaker and is the author of Just Be Well: A Book for Seekers of Vibrant Health. He is a contributor to the health site Just Be Well.  

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