5 ways startup founders can stop being such control freaks

One morning, I sat down in our firm convention room for what was to be an hour-long assembly with a number of colleagues to debate a product-related matter. Since I had sturdy emotions and likewise had overheard a number of hall talks concerning the difficulty, I used to be certain I had the suitable resolution. So I didn’t intend to remain lengthy.

“Hear, everybody,” I stated. “This assembly shouldn’t be any longer than 5 minutes. Right here’s what we have to do.”

Spoiler alert: The assembly didn’t finish fortunately. Because the cofounder and chief expertise officer of our cybersecurity firm, I figured I had all of the solutions, and so I assumed I used to be being useful by reducing to the chase and saving us all time. However did I appear open to different concepts? Did these within the room really feel empowered to precise them? Did they depart the assembly feeling motivated?


In fact not. As I now know, I used to be affected by a syndrome frequent to firm founders (particularly first-time ones like me) and that I had a very acute case of: an inclination towards controlling habits. Although many are loath to confess it, the jokey meme that claims “I do issues on my own as a result of nobody else can meet my ridiculously excessive requirements” rings all too true for many people.

However I spotted my know-it-all act needed to change. Not solely is that habits not cool, however you can’t construct an organization with out getting over your self and entrusting your individuals as full companions within the journey. I didn’t at all times perceive that; I do now. I seemed within the mirror and noticed a man with the perfect intentions however who too usually stepped on individuals.

When you consider it, it’s no marvel many people change into so hands-on. We’ve a strong sense of possession (till we see that our job as leaders is to assist others really feel the identical sense of possession). We’ve a powerful need for issues to be accomplished not solely proper however quick (till we perceive this must be a shared perfect throughout the corporate, not one thing we can make occur by snapping our fingers).

And within the startup’s earliest days, we actually do have our arms in every part, from product technique to advertising to gross sales and assist to workplace administration and bookkeeping. Many entrepreneurs are caught off-guard, and so they have bother adjusting when firm development means getting out of the center and enabling others to autonomously lead these capabilities.

The sensation is very similar to what a mum or dad experiences when watching their newly licensed teenager drive off alone within the household automobile for the primary time. You understand it’s a significant step within the youngster’s evolution towards impartial maturity, nevertheless it’s scary nonetheless.

All of this has been one in every of my greatest surprises as a first-time startup founder. I assumed my method was high-quality, till it wasn’t. However I’ve labored exhausting on altering, and proceed to take action. Listed below are 5 classes I’ve discovered and that I’d recommend different recovering control freaks take into consideration:

Settle for you will have an issue 

Startup founders ought to acknowledge that lots of the Sort A, hard-charging traits that spurred them to take the entrepreneurial leap within the first place might additionally, in the event that they’re not cautious, stand in the best way of creating extra collaborative management types. Fact is, a collaborative type comes extra naturally to some individuals than others. It didn’t for me.

As I did, each founder ought to carry out a intestine test and, if essential, actively work on turning into extra snug in spreading decision-making affect across the group. Get a coach. Meditate on the subject. I learn books like Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink, one in every of whose classes is that every one crew members have to be introduced into the mission, or Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Y Combinator cofounder Jessica Livingston.

I acknowledge that embracing a brand new type often includes a studying curve – so I deal with it that method. And I let others learn about what I’m doing. Information alert: It’s okay to point out vulnerability.

Let it go! 

I used to suppose that getting numerous stuff accomplished rapidly was what mattered most at our firm, and that it was on me to make it possible for occurred. As the corporate grows, I’ve come to know that what actually issues is constructing our groups with nice individuals and empowering them to maneuver the enterprise ahead.

Maybe that sounds apparent, however the significance of creating others really feel protected to be inventive, take dangers, and train their instinct can’t be overstated. I acquired to try this after I began the corporate; now it’s their flip.

Think about you’re out of the image

In our firm’s 2021 planning, we did one thing we by no means had earlier than: We disregarded individuals’s names. A phrase such as “Tzury to steer this” appeared nowhere. As a substitute, the planning centered squarely on the corporate’s overarching methods, quite than defining roles and assignments for particular individuals.

An organization scaling for development must undertake a mindset that anybody, even a founder, is fungible and that the corporate is larger than any particular person. It could not at all times be a straightforward idea to understand, nevertheless it’s actuality.

Be taught from others

Position fashions are in all places. Board members. Founders and high executives at different corporations. Managers down the reporting chain in your personal firm. I’ve even taken inspiration from the collaborative method through which my 14-year-old son treats others.

Exercising your energy of statement can go a good distance in making you a greater chief.

Acknowledge the results of not adapting

When a founder hoards control over every part, I now notice, they do harm in numerous ways. They stifle impartial pondering and motion. They frustrate and intimidate. They hog not solely accountability however data that others have to do their jobs nicely. And, sarcastically, they find yourself turning into bottlenecks – they suppose their method of doing issues helps the corporate transfer quicker, however actually it hits the brakes.

Startup founders are higher off emulating the rules of open-source software program, which is predicated on the concept that innovation is greatest served by contributions from a big group of coders. This mannequin has allowed every kind of software program to be developed higher and quicker, and it appears a clever instance to comply with in main an organization.


As these 5 ideas present, overcoming control freak tendencies is a troublesome journey that requires intentional effort. I’m not thrilled about my dictatorial previous, however I’m excited concerning the adjustments I’ve made and proceed to. I think the individuals at our firm are too.

This is among the most necessary issues I’ve ever accomplished.

Tzury Bar Yochay is cofounder and chief expertise officer of cybersecurity firm Reblaze.