You’re An Entrepreneur And Don’t Like To Lead People? Here Are Your Options.

Many entrepreneurs start successful companies because they’re good at something specific. But then, workload increases and they have to add the first person to the team. Then the second, and so on.

One day, they wake up and realize that they hate what they’re doing. Because the don’t like managing people.

And that’s fine.

Read below about entrepreneurs that don’t like to manage people and how they deal with it.

There are options for you.

The new type of entrepreneur

In my work with companies from different industries, many of which remote-only online businesses, I encounter a specific type of entrepreneur more and more often:

The “I don’t want to lead people” type. Let’s call them Nolies (derived from No Leader).

A Noly is a person that started a business (or multiple businesses) because of either functional expertise (I am great at marketing), an existing product or service that they found demand for or just a drive to build businesses.

The Noly is great at doing exactly that. Building brands and marketing, or selling, or developing the product or the service.

But they hate managing people. It’s not that they don’t like people or aren’t good with people.

Often quite the contrary. They engage superbly with partners, clients or vendors.

But there are some things about managing their own team that just don’t work for them.

DELEGATING

The very act of explaining themselves to others in an effort to make them do the work feels overly strenuous to Nolies. There’s a constant voice in their head, saying

“Do it yourself”

“You can do it better”

“You can do it quicker”

ACCEPTING DIFFERENT WAYS OF WORKING AND VARYING RESULTS

With a high level of perfectionism and a strong opinion on how things are done right, the Noly has a hard time accepting people’s work outcomes.

REPETITION

The thing that bothers Nolies the most is the need for repetition of any change that is being introduced to the team.

A Noly would typically say things like

“I’ve explained that in a lot of detail before”

“I just don’t know how they can not understand this”

“I find it dreadding that I have to always repeat myself”

INTERRUPTION OF FLOW

The Noly is great at what they’re doing because of an almost super-human ability to focus. To dive into their work, reach a state of flow and then produce great outcomes.

Once there’s a team, they get constantly interrupted. Questions, meetings, chat messages, email. Everything seems to keep them from doing their actual work.

Not every founder is a CEO

The Noly is a specific version of an observation that is many decades old: The skillset that make someone successful is different in the founding phase than in the growth phase.

Basically, Nolies can’t or — more often — don’t want to adjust to the changed set of tasks that the role of the CEO of a growing company brings.

Now if we accept that reality – and you as a founder better accept it quickly if it’s true for you – there are a few options.

The options for the Noly

All options the Noly have try to do one thing: Decrease the need for actual (hierarchical) management required from them. (Check our blog post about the coordinating mechanisms here.) So they can dedicate their time to what they’re good at.

OPTION 1 – STANDARDIZE

The first and most obvious solution is standardization of simple tasks.

You simply define best practice, put it in writing and the ask your team to follow it.

Pros

  • Simple
  • Quick

Cons

  • Doesn’t work for complex or interdependent tasks
  • People don’t follow changed standards once they are used to doing a task a certain way
  • Standards need constant updating

OPTION 2 – GET A STRONG TEAM AND ALLOW FOR INFORMAL COMMUNICATION

Another way for a Noly to get out of managing the company is to bring in very strong individual players and allow them to solve problems autonomously.

Pros

  • Can produce high-quality solutions
  • Talented people can drive your company success

Cons

  • Loss of control over strategic direction and execution
  • People of the right caliber are hard to find
  • Even the most autonomous people need some form of guidance

OPTION 3 – OUTSOURCE

Instead of building your team, you could set up your business in a network structure, finding third party partners for all your tasks.

Pros

  • High quality execution and external know how
  • No risk and long term commitment

Cons

  • Also third party partners will need management and coordination
  • You don’t build up internal know-how

OPTION 4 – GET OPS HELP

The Noly could stay in the CEO role but bring in someone to manage the day-to-day, a classical number 2 in command. This person could be an operations manager or COO. This person would take over all execution of the strategy defined by the CEO.

Pros

  • Maintained control while delegating management
  • Sustainable structure

Cons

  • Cost intensive
  • Hard to find the right candidate

OPTION 5 – GET A CEO

If the Noly would like to stay in the company, but wants to focus on a specific field, like in a functional sales, product or marketing role, then resorting to that position and bringing in a CEO to run the company can be the solution.

Pros

  • Complete hands-off solution of management
  • Sustainable structure

Cons

  • Hard to find the right candidate
  • Can be difficult to let go of decisions and power

As always in business, there’s no one solution that is perfect. It rather depends on the specific situation of the Noly to figure out what’s best for the company.

Please comment what your preferred way would be.

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