25 August 2009

Don't Mistake Loyalty for Leadership

A common trait of founders, CEOs and in fact most executives, is the loyalty they command among their troops. During times of crisis (including most of the early years of a developing company, integration of mergers, etc), loyalty is a critical characteristic of the leadership team. But in order for a company to scale, leadership is much more important than blind faith alone. It's apparently quite difficult to separate the two. And clearly, the bonds born of loyalty are hard to overcome.

As companies mature and it becomes necessary for management decisions to distribute beyond a strong single central decision maker, loyalty alone is not sufficient to generate good decisions. So CEOs need to steel themselves to objectively view their teams as either capable or not to operate on their own. Coloring (or perhaps blinding) the decision of who sits in these important leadership seats is a mistake too often made.