by John Francis

Are You Ready to Make the Move From Founder to CEO?

Jul 28, 2020 5:00:00 AM Franchise Planning, Franchisors, Franchising Help

Are You Ready to Make the Move From Founder to CEO?

There is an unseen phenomenon in businesses where the Founder - who worked so hard to start and build the company - suddenly becomes a roadblock to its future success.

Known as “Founder’s Syndrome” I’ve seen this occur in some of the franchise businesses I’ve been brought in to help - both Franchisors and Franchisees. Hallmark and typically invisible symptoms of this include a general lack of confidence in the team, a tendency to make decisions without the team’s input and ineffective accountability (or none at all) for the organization.

When the Founder has his hands in everything (micro-manage) and is unable to delegate effectively, the business can get “stuck” and it becomes difficult for the organization to thrive and grow. It also takes away the fun for the team, as they won’t be able to see their independent work or the results from their efforts. They also won’t stay for long if the situation appears to be permanent, due to Founder’s Syndrome being “the way we do things around here…”

If you recognize these symptoms in yourself as a Founder and leader, or if this is the case with someone you work for, the first step is to acknowledge that a problem exists. Next, you need to implement techniques to deal with it. I’ve had good results using these techniques and approaches:

  1. Delegation Skills: Learning to delegate more consistently and effectively is a key step in making the transition from Founder to CEO. This is a skill that can be learned, so if it doesn’t come natural, you might consider bringing in training resources or a coach who can help you develop this skill set as a leader - as well as help your staff learn how to receive delegated tasks more effectively.
  2. Board of Advisors: A Board can add a lot of value to an organization in this area by helping the founder get comfortable with giving up some control and becoming a more effective leader. Once in place, the Board can help improve accountability as a part of the culture, and keep the entire organization accountable - from top to bottom.
  3. EOS Operating Model: Based on the book “Traction,” the Entrepreneurial Operating System is a structured and accountable format for running an organization effectively. It’s a big commitment, and it’s becoming more popular. I’ve seen it consistently improve the situation in organizations that have implemented it successfully.

In my role as an executive coach, I’ve helped many Franchisors and Franchisees integrate these techniques into their organizations. After all, it’s a lot of work to manage the day-to-day responsibilities of running a business while also trying to put new systems in place. A coach can help with this so that you can more easily transition into an effective CEO and lead your organization to higher levels of success.

Remember that this transition isn’t about giving up your role as the company Founder - no one can take that away from you. The goal here is to grow beyond that title into a CEO-level leadership function so that you can stop being your own bottleneck and do what is best for your business. If you don’t, you risk unconsciously driving away and losing the high-performing executives and staff you need to take your business to the next level. These individuals will avoid joining an organization where Founder’s Syndrome exists - or will leave once they realize the situation will not change and their skills won’t be effectively utilized.

If you’re a Founder and feel like you’re ready to make this type of change, I can help. Or, if it’s something that you recognize as a situation that needs to change in your organization's leadership, I’m happy to discuss strategies for helping you navigate that situation as well!

Let me help you move from being the Founder to the CEO of your business. Please reach out and we’ll schedule a time to talk. Thanks!


John Francis

Written by John Francis

About the Franchise Expert


John Francis is an enthusiastic, engaging, and entertaining public speaker because he speaks from experience and he speaks from the heart. Franchising is in his blood, and his parents were true pioneers in the industry, turning their family haircutting business into a 1,000-salon franchise empire. He has been a franchisee and a franchisor, and has a deep understanding of the issues both face. Book John to speak at your event, and you and your franchisees will learn how to look at your business in new, positive, and profitable ways.

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