From the archive:
Recently I enjoyed a working dinner with a brilliant entrepreneur. He has a young but growing business, is enjoying successes in the press and has no problem attracting great talent. He is not encountering most of the startup issues normally experienced during this phase. Instead he is facing a challenge normally reserved for more mature companies.
He asked me “how can I tell if my team is giving me the best feedback possible or simply acquiescing because they fear my reaction?”
If this difficulty exists today, it will undoubtedly compound each day ahead. Worse yet, there is little this founder can do to mitigate this specific risk without direct attention. As the company continues to chalk up wins, he will earn more and more credibility in the eyes of the market, his board and the company’s employees. If it hasn’t already happened, there will be a day when he will be unintentionally surrounded by bobble-heads acquiescing to all recommendations coming from the C-Suite. The senior advisers will be afraid to publicly debate in the event that their POV is seen as dissension.