I learned early I like working for small start-ups that had successfully negotiated the associated perils of being new and were experiencing a period of growth which was close to paralyzing them. More specialization of job functions, well-defined processes (but not too much), and strong leadership were required. I felt like I excelled when I found those types of jobs. I was lucky to do so three times in my career and they were my absolute favorite experiences.
Successfully working through that phase of a company's existence does not last forever, though. At some point the founder wants to reap his or her just reward for the sacrifices they and their family have made. So the next step is typically an acquisition. Acquisitions are leap into the unknown. A good leader needs to have change management skills to ensure their teams make positive first impressions on the new owners. They must also be an educator and advocate for their part of the business. New and different skills are frequently required of a leaders -- something you find out as you go.
The company for which I worked was acquired in 2010 by a well-led, growing, global company staffed with talented people up and down the organization chart. It was the best acquisition I ever experienced in every way. It just wasn't for me and the types of challenges I enjoy.
|My team, their family and friends at one of annual summer|
get togethers at our home; personal collection
The most important skill a leader must have is willingness to do succession planning. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to lead people should always be working to make ourselves irrelevant to our organization. It's the only way I know to advance the careers of your staff and make your team stronger.
We were in the middle of executing a major new expansion of our product, something important to the entire company. During all the excitement, I woke up one day, looked at my calendar over coffee, and realized there wasn't one meeting I absolutely needed to attend. My team could handle every issue. I knew then it was time to begin the next chapter of my life. The team, my managers and I built over the last several years, is passionate, ambitious, and hard-charging. I've loved every minute of watching them grow and succeed. But it's time to let them take over the reins and achieve their own rewards and recognition.
|My husband and I on a 2010 Chairman's Club trip to Jamaica;|
photograph taken by Charles Tsui
I'm excited for them and for me!