Dealing with Founderitis

I found this interesting definition of Founderitis on Wikipedia:

“The term “founderitis” or “founder’s syndrome” refers to the unhealthy condition that afflicts many companies whose founders maintain a stranglehold on organizational leadership. While many companies owe their success “” and in fact their very existence “” to their founders, those same individuals can create chaos that ultimately leads to the organization’s collapse. The challenge to founding CEOs and boards of directors is to take steps to change conflict and chaos into opportunities for growth.”

I have personally experience this running my own business. I have found some ways to avoid it:

– Respect the need for planning activities, staff meetings, and administrative policies;

– Realize that as the company grows circumstances may dictate new approaches;

– Institute new systems with approval of your board;

– Seeks and accepts input from others in making decisions;

– Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Managing through a fit of founderitis requires a tricky mixture of growth opportunities, board involvement, and a firm delivery method.

  • Accept the fact that you can’t do everything themselves and you need to bring on people whose strengths complement your own.
  • Separation of your identity and goals from your role as a founder.
  • Accept that the organization’s success no longer depends solely on your creativity and decisions but instead requires the input of partners who are equally or perhaps more skilled than you.
  • Dance.
  • Shift responsibilities to worthy successors and trust them to fail and succeed.

Don’t worry if you can’t over come this there is a simple solution. Get your board to hire a professional CEO and take a long vacation.

So how many of you have had problems with founderitis? What is your story? Have a great example to share? Let the comments be the conversation.

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Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.