Small businesses grow because of the drive, energy, and leadership of their founders. As their companies grow these individuals push and encourage their workforce. They provide the plan of attack. They decide the direction in which to go. In a word they provide leadership.
After that, what happens? What happens when the founder gives up? Some of these companies wither and die when the founder dies. Some of them are sold to others and absorbed into bigger concerns. Eventually they become one way or another part of a much larger concern.
Therein lies the danger. Skills needed in large conglomerates are not the same as skills needed in small rapidly growing concerns. There is more emphasis on management and organisation and less on sheer flair and risk taking and entrepreneurship.
But these are still needed. In a smaller proportion, perhaps, but needed all the same. The men with vision are still needed. The men with a sense of ambition and a willingness to take risks. Otherwise how will the company know where it is going? How will it continue to grow? Without these men the company will sit on its laurels, stagnate, and fail to change with the times. Ultimately decline sets in. The men to foresee the next threat (challenge) are not there. The men to see the next challenge but one are not there. The forward thinkers and visionaries are not there.
The problem is that these men are not always those who fit in well with the company at its lower levels. They are not always the ones who get promoted. They are more likely to be the awkward ones who are always complaining about how things are done. They are the ones who do not blindly follow the opinions of their bosses.
Companies need therefore to be able to spot these individuals and identify the real reasons for their behaviour and attitudes. Is it because they really are awkward and uncooperative? If so they deserve what they (don’t) get. But if it is because they see better ways to do things, if it is because they are frustrated that those above them are content to carry on as before, if it is because they find that their leaders have no sense of direction. If so then they should be picked out, nurtured, and encouraged because very likely they are just the ones needed to push the company ahead in the years to come.