Was talking with a colleague of mine the other day at my new start-up, The News Funnel, about what it takes to be running a small company or start-up and how different those skills are from managing people. And during the conversation I realized perhaps at no other time in my 30-year career, have I been a worse manager. I am a horrible manager. I change my mind daily. I take crazy risks. I spend a tiny percentage of my day teaching. I doubt I inspire; I can literally see my teammates at The News Funnel nodding their heads in agreement as they read this! And I hate, hate meetings.
A few weeks ago I was chatting with a buddy of mine who works for a Fortune 100 company and has a pretty big job there. He was talking about how challenging it is to manage his team. How much time he spends trying to motivate, teach and groom. How he constantly instills upon them the need to mitigate risks. And how he literally spends all day in meetings.
Makes sense. When you’re building a company from scratch, all you think about is survival. When you work for a large conglomerate, you think about furthering your career and fitting into the corporate culture while trying to just "do your job well".
Got me thinking. Can someone be both a successful entrepreneur and a good manager? Thinking back on my own professional journey, I can’t remember encountering many who excel at both. Most are either really good at building companies or really good at working for them.
Many of the companies I know that failed or that never grew into a mature, multifaceted organization did so because of the founder’s own limitations. Founders rarely evolve into a good manager and often intentionally keep the company focused on maximizing their profit potential (as they should!).
Getting to the point. I think the real key to building a successful career is to know in which camp your strengths lie. Throughout my career, I’ve known many entrepreneurs who thought they were managers, and many managers who thought they were entrepreneurs. In both cases, the person usually goes into the situation like a deer in headlights, and it showed, and they got left behind. They were not prepared or equipped to handle that function.
Is it foolish of me to silo people like this? Do you know of examples of a businessperson who was both and amazing entrepreneur and manager?
Would love to get some feedback on the topic.