Agencies that want to scale up no longer need founders— they need leaders.
You were an awesome founder! Now it’s time to take off that hat. From here on, your ability to lead is what’s going to grow your agency.
Shauna Moran, the founder of Operation Remote, is an accredited coach, consultant, and emotional intelligence practitioner. She has unique experience in building and managing remote teams internationally, coupled with an academic background in psychology and innovation management and extensive research in remote-working strategies.
Here, Moran shares her tips on going from the hustling founder of a minor, scrappy agency to an effective leader of an innovative ecommerce service provider.
How to Move from Founder to Leader
As an entrepreneur, you had a concept. As a founder, you worked hard to make that concept a reality. You generated revenue by obtaining clients and sourcing the best talent to help you scale and grow.
That “founder mentality” was critical in getting you where you are today, but to get you where you want to be five years from now, you’ll need to change your mindset again. At a certain point, if you’re going to move forward, you need to shift gears from founder to leader.
Delegate, Good Times, Come On!
One thing leaders have to do, whether it comes naturally or not, is delegate. Once you have a team around you that produces high-quality work, it’s time to trust them! Delegation is an art that requires the drive to improve, open communication lines between teams, and consistent performance management.
Evolve Beyond Self-Interest
To earn the title of leader, you must evolve beyond seeking your interests, status, and recognition. Your success will now be defined by how successful your team is. It’s your job to remove the blocks to their success—so they can thrive.
Create structures within the business to set the team up for success, such as goal setting, time management, and continuous development.
A Compelling Vision
Human capital is now widely valued as one of the most important contributors to the company’s sustainable performance and growth. To attract and retain quality employees, a team needs a strong vision, and that starts with you embracing a visionary leadership style.
The title, salary, and benefits package should be more. Employees now expect a company to have a clear and compelling vision—a reason for doing what they do. When missing, this leads to a lack of engagement, productivity, and, eventually, staff churn. Clearly define your company vision and mission, and ensure your leadership team is aligned on how that vision is brought into daily/weekly/team/online interactions. Always lead by example: walk the talk, and others will follow.
When your vision is compelling, and your culture is thriving, you open up other possibilities for your agency, such as hiring remote employees. One of the most common challenges agencies face is sourcing talent in a specific location. When you hire remotely, you have access to a global talent pool.
Invest in Coaching
One of the most effective ways to grow as a leader is by developing a leadership style that uses coaching. Coaching is, in essence, unlocking people’s potential to maximize their performance.
When you begin to use a coaching leadership style, your organization's culture will start to change. The old idea of hierarchy gives way to partnership and collaboration. Blame gives way to honest evaluation and learning; external motivations are replaced by self-motivation; protective barriers fall as teams build; change is no longer forced but welcomed, and satisfying the boss becomes pleasing to the customer. Short-term, fire-fighting reactions become strategic thinking.
Instead of being the problem solver, you’re now empowering your team to find the solutions.
Level Up Your Organization with Bold Leadership
Leveling up your organization requires bold leadership. If you want to scale, generate more revenue, and reap the other benefits of growth, you must also grow personally. Moving from founder to leader requires a significant mindset shift, but you’ve done that before.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the main difference between a founder and a leader?
Founders are the initiators, the entrepreneurs who bring a concept to life and drive its initial growth. Leaders, on the other hand, are those who inspire and guide the growth of their teams to achieve shared success and scale the organization.
Why is it important to delegate as a leader?
Delegation is crucial for a leader because it allows for more efficient use of resources and time. It also empowers the team by showing trust in their abilities, leading to improved performance and team morale.
What does it mean to “evolve beyond self-interest”?
Evolving beyond self-interest means that a leader's focus shifts from their personal success to the success of their team. The leader's success is defined by their team's achievements and the growth of the organization.
Why is a compelling vision crucial in leadership?
A compelling vision motivates and unites a team. It provides a clear direction for the company and serves as the foundation of its culture. Without a strong vision, teams may lack engagement and productivity, leading to high staff turnover.
What are the benefits of hiring remote employees?
Hiring remote employees allows access to a global talent pool, overcoming the challenge of sourcing talent in specific locations. It also opens opportunities for diverse insights and ways of thinking in your organization.
How can coaching aid leadership development?
Coaching can unlock a leader's potential to maximize their performance. It can change an organization's culture by shifting from hierarchy to collaboration, blame to learning, and external motivation to self-motivation.
What does it mean to level up an organization?
Leveling up an organization refers to its growth and development, moving beyond its current state. This involves scaling operations, generating more revenue, and often requires personal growth from its leaders.
How does leadership contribute to an organization's sustainable performance and growth?
Leadership plays a vital role in organizational growth by inspiring and guiding teams, making strategic decisions, and creating a compelling vision that motivates employees. It also involves nurturing a culture that values learning, collaboration, and innovation.
What does “walking the talk” mean in a leadership context?
In leadership, “walking the talk” means that leaders not only articulate the company's vision and values but also demonstrate them in their actions and decisions. This creates authenticity and credibility, inspiring employees to follow suit.
What changes when a founder transitions to a leader?
A founder transitioning to a leader experiences a mindset shift. Their role evolves from being the problem solver to empowering the team to find solutions. Their success becomes tied to the team's success, and their focus shifts towards strategic thinking and nurturing a thriving team and organizational culture.