Founders, Be Willing to Get Your Hands Dirty

An early-stage founder asked me for advice on handling a weird cofounder dynamic. This CEO realized that his team doesn’t respect his cofounder. Finding this odd, I dug in. I learned that the cofounder is used to a more corporate setting with resources and a team beneath him. He sees his lane as being narrow and stays squarely in it. Translation: the cofounder isn’t used to getting his hands dirty and taking on tasks he isn’t experienced in.

Early-stage companies are in constant flux and usually have only a handful of people. What needs to be done changes constantly, and there are never enough resources to get everything done. Often, everyone works on tasks outside their role—leaders included—until the company has the resources and scale to hire sufficient staff.

Early-stage founders should lead by example and be ready to get their hands dirty. Otherwise, they risk losing the respect of their team. It’s hard for your people to wrap their heads around running through a wall for you if you won’t run through one yourself.