Fast Company magazine is rapidly becoming one of my favorite publications. The current issue has a number of interesting pieces, but one in particular that caught my attention is by Nancy Lubin and called, “Let’s Hear it for the Little People.”
From the article:
We're obsessed with leadership. Bookstores have entire sections devoted to leadership. Corporations spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on leadership retreats. At some universities, you can even major in leadership. Venture-capital money flows like water into the hands of founders who are labeled "visionary" and "at the vanguard." And what's sexier these days than the words "I started my own blah blah blah"?
I think we've got it wrong. We've overdone this whole leadership/founder/entrepreneur thing. And we're not spending nearly enough time crediting the folks who turn all that visionary stuff into tangible reality: the chief operating officers, the midlevel managers, the staffers. If the word didn't have a pejorative tinge to it, I guess you'd call them followers.
What I particularly liked about the piece is that it reminds us that while the lead entrepreneur is critically important to the success of the venture, it’s often times the rest of the team that insures that the entrepreneur’s vision is carried out. In my classes I always spend a considerable amount of time talking about the concept of the team for the new venture. You have to have a variety of different kinds of skills on the team, and most importantly, you want to be sure that you have people who are not like the lead entrepreneur. In other words, if he/she is a techy, the other folks need to be sales people, numbers folks, ops folks. I like to tell my students to look at yourself honestly in the mirror, and get people on the rest of the management team who are nothing like you. It’s nice to see that Ms. Lubin is giving some credit to those most often forgotten in the successful venture, the rest of the team.