Heidrick & Struggles: Key Leadership Questions For Fast-Growing Companies

Easing Growing Pains

Sean C. Carroll and Christopher McCloskey, consultants from Heidrick & Struggles, published new technology insights.

For technology companies, moving from having a customer base of early adopters to having a technology that’s used by a majority represents a critical leap toward success. Most fast-growing companies face a related, and equally critical, leap from having an early, close-knit founding leadership team, often led by a visionary CEO, to needing a leadership team with functional expertise and the ability to manage scale while still meeting the expectations of customers, investors, and the founding team itself. And while tech companies are best known for sudden, transformative growth spurts, in fact such growth can happen in almost any industry, including healthcare, hospitality, consumer goods, and retail.

Young companies typically need to bring on board new senior leaders with deep experience in key functions. But the executive teams are typically small and have succeeded so far by relying on their own knowledge and networks. Unlike executives at more established companies, they may not be able to define exactly what kind of expertise they need or have experience finding it, let alone be able to determine the right balance between expertise and cultural fit - something that’s important at any company but, in our experience, often crucial at start-ups still driven by a singular vision.

To ease these leadership growing pains, executives at fast-growing companies should focus on finding operational executives who complement their existing teams.

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