Strategic management, sound financial planning, marketing campaigns, KPI’s and performance management are all vital ingredients of a disciplined entrepreneurial business. However, the role I have identified as being pivotal yet often overlooked is that of the “Company Social Worker”.
The first few years of a business is quite an intimate affair, founders and staff are quite close-knit, almost like a family – but as soon as the head count reaches 5- 7 something strange happens. The principal is confronted with the need for a new set of skills – those somewhat analogous to a social worker. This presents a challenging phase in the founders own personal development – supporting individuals emotionally with issues both related and unrelated to the company becomes a necessity. Staff’s and colleagues personal problems are brought to the office and they can impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the business.
As the company gets bigger these issues become amplified with the founder doing everything but the very things they loved to do when they started their business. The feeling of loneliness, isolation and desperation kicks in and people issues become a major anchor dragger for the leader – the founder is now a social worker!
The challenges can become so intense the leader now needs a social worker for their own sanity. I looked up the definition of social worker – “a person who works with people who are experiencing crisis”. So my conclusion – what can business leaders learn from social sciences? We all need that emotional support sometimes! As many leaders have said to me, it can be a pretty lonely place to be at times especially when you go to bed and you spend two hours staring at the ceiling wondering where next?