For any young company comes at some point the moment in which a decision must be made. And this decision has consequences for both the company and the founders. Are you ready for this responsibility – really ready?
I experience the situation again and again: Several founders, sometimes two, sometimes three, sometimes five, come to me and want to start a business. For this example it should be a GmbH.
I’ll ask who takes on the role of managing director. Sometimes this has already been discussed in advance by the founders. Sometimes it is not clear yet and will be determined during the consultation.
But in most cases, such a sentence comes: “It does not really matter, because we decide everything together.” That’s the moment in which a potentially serious problem for the future shows – but what the founders just not at all is seen.
The problem of decision
And I’m not saying that from a legal point of view, the one with the role of CEO is according to the law of decision makers.
I’m talking about the fact that the founders obviously – and in the further conversation shows that on the basis of a few questions on my part usually quite clear – it is not clear that there are situations in which can not be decided together.
So it does not “matter” who the CEO is. In other words, who in doubt is because of his role of the decision maker.
The problem is that you can hardly be prepared for such a role. After all, making decisions does not just mean that one simply selects between several options for action, and then it becomes one.
On the contrary, it means that one must deal in particular with the consequences of a decision. Because when you decide on an action option, you automatically decide against one or more alternatives.
The serious decisions are problematic
The situations in which decisions have to be made are manifold. Founders often think of situations such as signing contracts – for example, for office space – or accepting assignments.
I think, for example, that a founder stands in the way of the development of the promising company, but perhaps he does not recognize it himself. What do you do with him now?
Or in a company that wants to develop a product, it turns out that the technical problems in terms of development in practice are not solvable. But not every founder sees it.
How do you deal with such a situation? In practice, I experience it again and again that one – sometimes even several – founders slowly dawns, that it does not go on like this. Something has to change. A decision is pending. But what do you do now? Who takes responsibility?
Basically, the problem with the decision reveals itself in two ways.
The managing director as decision maker
First, you can look at the CEO. Because he is the one who is authorized to decide by virtue of his role and the law. But what if he does not understand what his role is? What if he is not capable of making a decision based on his personality?
One of the shareholders as decision maker
But you can also look at the individual shareholders. After all, they all ultimately share responsibility for the company. But what if they are not aware of this?
Decisions by consensus are the ideal image of all startups. But the reality sometimes looks – quite often even different.
A first conclusion on responsibility
Unfortunately, presenting a solution at this point is almost impossible. It may be that one or the other reader is disappointed. Because it always depends on the individual case and these individual cases are incredibly numerous.
My first concern was to point out the problem. To show that there are situations where decisions have to be made at all. Founders should be aware that sometimes one has to wear the hat – and that it is not easy.
Because decisions have consequences and you usually think about that in the run-up to the decision, which is stressful. After the decision, there may be consequences, which are also stressful.
Perhaps they are even so serious that friendships can break down or the company can not be continued.
In any case, it is helpful if founders are aware of this problem and its responsibilities. Because then you can work on finding a solution. These can be a mentor, certain types of role-playing games or mastermind groups.
Did you ever have to make problematic decisions? Were you prepared? How did you deal with the situation? Who took responsibility? I’m looking forward for comments.
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