Mavericks, Gamblers and CEOs
By their very nature, most entrepreneurs are mavericks and gamblers at heart. They are drawn to the promise and possibility of creating something new. Undaunted by the inherent risk and uncertainty, they would rather strike out on their own uncharted path than follow a well-worn one in an established organization replete with policies, procedures and various levels of bureaucracy. Something withers inside of them when they envision simply fitting in to an established organization versus launching a whole new venture. Their success at founding companies is fuelled by their creativity, independent thinking, laser focus, and ambition.
The founder’s personal proclivities are reflected in the early start-up culture which is fuelled by passion, free of policies, and focused like crazy on day-to-day execution making the dream become reality. Just like gamblers who know no moderation, founders throw themselves 100% into the venture with boundless enthusiasm and conviction, not to mention hours. With an eye on the big jackpot they are shooting for, founders are willing to put all of their chips on the table.
Gamblers don’t make the best advisors to one interested in long-term financial success and few mavericks have tolerance for structure and systems, much less any desire to create them. And herein lies the rub if a founder wants to make the transition to CEO once the start-up experiences success and starts to grow. The very maverick mindset and gambler’s devil-may-care attitude that propelled the entrepreneur to initial success are quite different from the qualities needed in the CEO of a growing organization. Marshall Goldsmith said it all when he entitled a book What got you here Won’t get you there. No longer can the founder-turned-CEO function as a maverick who is willing to risk it all—an entire growing company is depending on him or her. The CEO’s job is to put the company first, focusing on building infrastructure and processes so the business can grow. Mavericks can reign themselves in and gamblers can learn moderation and discipline. Founders who choose to do so can, with counsel and support, successfully make the transition to CEO. Others prefer to head out on the range or look for the next big win.