Over the past month, I’ve been writing about the importance of data and measurement in tracking the success of a startup.  In “Mastering the VC Game,” Jeffrey Bussgang takes the point one step further, when he quoted successful entrepreneur, Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact, who said:

“The single most important thing to do with a board is to keep them really up to date on the business. The good and the bad.”

Bill Chambers, the founder and former CEO of Lefthand Networks, has on more than one occasion been heard using the phrase:

“I was more surprised than pleased.”

It is his gentle, but very direct way of communicating the fact that he doesn’t like surprises. But like many seasoned executives, given a challenge, he is more than happy to step in and provide constructive suggestions to overcome most any challenge.

It doesn’t matter whether the organization is a for-profit corporation or a not-for-profit charity, the CEO or Executive Director needs to be transparent with the Board. As Jeffrey points out in his book, adversity can pull the team together or pull the team apart. The outcome depends on transparency. When challenges are plainly placed on the table and help from the board and outside advisers is sought, options appear and logjams become unstuck. But if, despite obvious challenges, the organization’s head feels a need to hide behind a self-assurance facade, the board will lose confidence and the organization is almost assuredly doomed to fail.

I wrote earlier today on leadership and The Five Temptations of a CEO, so it seemed an appropriate follow on to comment on an article about “followers” (as opposed to leaders) that I found in my morning newspaper.  The article, written by Barbara Kellerman, was a summary of her article  published in the Harvard Business Review and available here

She classifies followers into five types:

  1. Isolates
  2. Bystanders
  3. Participants
  4. Activists
  5. Diehards

If you are the CEO of a startup or a business unit, you know the importance of picking the right leadership team.  But I wonder how much time you think about hiring the right kind of follower.  You might find a useful resource in this article.

I just finished reading The Five Temptations of a CEO by Patrick Lencioni.  If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you might be confused, because my reading-list widget on Facebook tells you that I’m reading The Black Swan.

I actually didn’t know about Patrick’s book, until it was handed to me by my co-founder, David, who bought it as a present for a CEO we know pretty well. And I was totally prepared not to like it. After all, it’s only 132 pages and priced at $22.95. It seemed like a bit of pricing arrogance to me. But, hey, David bought the book. It was no skin off my back, if he wanted me to read it.  And sure, he could have bought it used for a couple of bucks, but whatever. (more…)