My colleague recently recommended that I watch the movie, “The Intern.” I must admit that I don’t have much time for movies. But, Amy mentioned that the movie has a plot line that speaks to the challenges of Founders growing into the CEO role. So, naturally I was interested.
It’s a nice movie. Jules, the main character played by Anne Hathaway, founded a fast growing clothing company in an old Brooklyn warehouse. Her husband quit his job to help support her success and raise their daughter. Her older intern played by Robert Dinero, is looking to find meaning and purpose after a successful career and becoming a widower.
Ben (Robert Dinero) serves as a wise mentor during a challenging time in Jules’ life and stage of company growth. She is being pressured by investors to consider hiring a CEO. They seem to question her capabilities to navigate the growth and increased complexities of the company. For Founding CEOs who have investors, this is a familiar dilemma.
While the dilemma to stay or go is an important issue I will more further cover at a later time, the small steps that get you closer to becoming the CEO of your company are well in hand.
In the movie, Jules certainly understood the need for an executive assistant. She had a smart, capable assistant who was eager to help. She also had a team of very talented people who seemed to be great assets and play a big part in the company’s success.
Ben adds a dimension of selfless service and helps Jules with the one thing she really needs…clarity. After watching the movie, I believe she became more clear as she was goaded, influenced, mentored and convinced of peeling away tasks, duties, and responsibilities and generally focusing on higher level issues. She started to trust others to important work, even Ben.
It’s difficult for you to make big decisions like staying as the CEO of the company you founded if you are distracted by small tasks, inconsequential endeavors, and generally preoccupied with busy work that is best suited for others. I guess that’s why Jules’ husband was eager for her to find a CEO to replace her. He wanted her to have more time with their family.
If you have decided to stay on as CEO of the company you founded, it’s sometimes a process of peeling off responsibilities over the course of time. Of course, the speed of this process often depends on the growth of your company, the quality of your hiring, and your willingness to let go.
Some questions to ask yourself
Here are some questions that may help you on your way:
- What are those things that provide you less joy and seem arduous?
- What big issues, decisions, or planning are you avoiding because you are overwhelmed with things that prevent you from moving the company forward?
- Who on your team would benefit from the development opportunity of performing the tasks and managing the projects that you have already mastered?
- During the movie there was a messy table of junk that served to cause stress and anxiety to Jules. Are there distracting messy situations or projects that keep pulling you away that others can handle?
- Does your team have some suggestions about what they think you should delegate? I’m sure they will have some ideas they would love to share with you. 🙂
Clarity of mind is a one of the most important things you can do to enhance your success as a Founding CEO. Now, close your computer or turn off your phone and take a walk…and use your new found clarity to think big about the future of your company. You’ll be glad you did.