As your business grows, it is important that your management team develops along with it. Team members often work for each other. In addition, many entrepreneurs are business-oriented and lack strategic or financial skills. So consciously seek complementarity as you grow.
This can be about cognitive skills (one is very analytical, the other is in communication), personality (strongly pronounced or connecting) or age.
As for the latter, it is important to have a mix of young and experienced. We know from research that the longer someone is in a position, the less is the ability and willingness to innovate. It’s a bit of a generalization, but still. If you have been at the helm of entrepreneurship for a long time, surround yourself with young people.
You create a winning team by bringing in the missing skills. So no overlap, but addition. It is also important that the role of CFO follows developments. As the business grows, we see that feature mature. If you want to attract external capital to finance growth, you need to deal with investors who will require that this function is in order.
In healthy growth companies, visionary growth is driving
Another way of looking at complementarity has to do with driving forward and managing growth. In healthy growth companies that we follow, we often see that there is a visionary who drives the growth. An inspirer who constantly wants to develop new opportunities, and who excites people to it.
Complementary to this is a person who controls growth. A person who sets goals in a disciplined manner, who elaborates in detail on how to achieve them, and who makes adjustments if necessary.
Balanced growth at YoungCapital
A little more than ten years after its inception, the founders of YoungCapital explicitly decided to look for this complementarity. An important step for the further development of the company. Until then, a number of projects and innovative ideas had been launched, but effective implementation was increasingly lacking.
The solution was found in Ineke Kooistra. She became the new CEO. The task she was given was, among other things, to bring calm and clear leadership. Kooistra also had to ensure that the company remained healthy and that a balance was found between rapid growth and profitability. While they themselves wanted to focus on cost management, the three founders pushed for more growth.
In consultation, they arrived at a balanced approach. So more professionalism and clarity around the goals, while maintaining the entrepreneurial spirit. They also agreed to expand the management team. This now consists to a greater extent of professional managers – recruited or appointed externally – within eg HR, marketing, sales, operations, finance and IT.
The right team at Jumbo
Jumbo also made changes to the management team to prepare the organization for further growth. In 2002, Karel and Frits van Eerd began leading together. People close to them described this as a clever move: The young Frits and experienced Karel complemented each other perfectly – as it later turned out.
Constantly calibrate the composition of the management team with the growth stage you are in
However, more was needed to keep growing healthy. In 2004, Karel and Frits realized that they needed external expertise to steer the company’s financial growth in the right direction. They recruited Ton van Veen as CFO. A board of directors followed five years later, which was helpful because Jumbo attracted more and more attention from financial specialists and the press because of its growth.
With this board, chaired by Karel, they brought people with valuable new knowledge and skills. Piet Coelewij as an expert in digitalisation and high technology, Antony Burgmans as a specialist in entrepreneurship and Wilco Jiskoot as a heavyweight in the banking field. In short: the expertise needed to make the chosen growth paths successful.
So constantly calibrate the composition of the leadership team with the growth phase you are in. With the right complementarity, you form a winning team.