The Role of the Founder – Lone Wolf or Team Player

Presenter: Ian McKelvie, CEO of BECAUZ

Despite knowing full well I am no entrepreneur, last week’s webinar covering ‘The Role of the Founder – Lone Wolf or Team Player’ proved compelling and an exceptionally useful insight into the workings of a team. Ian McKenzie led this veterinary webinar and gave an honest and frank overview of some of the pitfalls encountered when taking on the lead role in a business using examples of how his own flaws have had the potential to hamper the performance of his team and consequently his business.

Perfectionism is one of Ian’s traits which he believes has, in the past, held back his team especially in the formulation and implementation of new ideas. Many in his team would feel daunted by the prospect of presenting and implementing a new idea as they know full well Ian is the type of character who demands perfection. To solve this problem Ian devised a 75% acceleration approach to new ideas where the team would be asked to create version one of the suggested idea only to 75% of its ideal as quickly as possible. If an idea is moving in the right direction, Ian will then ask his team to create version two by working on 75% of the remaining 25%. Version 3 would then work on the same principle and offers a platform for final adjustments. This allows for innovation and creativity to move forwards without getting stuck in the world of perfectionism and most importantly, without compromising on quality.

In order to understand how to help his business drive innovation, Ian had to initially recognise it was his own trait of perfectionism which needed to be addressed. Unless a leader is incredibly self-aware, it takes feedback from team members to recognise where a problem lies. This follows the principles of the Johari Window where characteristics unknown by oneself but known by others are labelled blind spots, and the only way to find out about your blinds spots is to ask! Ian explained feedback is invaluable, helping to drive competence, build self-confidence and strengthen relationships.

In order to get useful feedback it is essential that a culture is created in a business where people feel comfortable to talk and be honest despite your ‘rank’. I’m sure many of us must have attended practice meetings where our boss has asked if there is anything we could be doing better, and everyone has averted their eyes except for one seemingly brave person who comments only to fear this may be a career limiting move. Ian explained that a culture has to be established in the business where a set of ‘norms’ are put in place that encourage listening and help deal with conflict. Ian has achieved this by creating a ‘code of honour’ within practices listing a set of principles to be taken on board by all team members which, for example, may include recognising and rewarding results, to continually challenge oneself and always remain inclusive of the whole team.

Ian delivered invaluable advice which would not only benefit leaders and founders of a business but also be useful to all team members. By improving the performance of a team and addressing your own limitations, the business can only grow in the right direction and surely this has to be music to any entrepreneur’s ears.

The Stethoscope (MRCVS)