By MichaelaTuesday, April 24th, 2007
Building on my recent entry on Founder’s Syndrome, one sad thing about the situation is that often the founder has real talents and strengths, accompanied by a huge blind spot. I have seen people who can conceive of, found, and build a new organization with a skill and success that few others could match, but then are unable to manage the maturing organization, build systems, include others in leadership, and generally let go a bit. Often, such a leader is forced out after a big row. When this happens s/he usually goes on to found another organization, promising never to make the same mistake again — the mistake, in the founder’s mind, being a) having an uppity board, b) hiring staff with aspirations, or c) “sharing” power. Nonetheless, the situation repeats itself in the new organization — initial success, followed by conflict and eventual termination.
Maybe the single-mindedness and extraordinary drive that are required to found a new nonprofit are incompatible with seeing that other people have a legitimate, indeed an essential role in the leadership of that organization. I hope that is not true, but sometimes I wonder.