Sharing control

Expanding management: The delicate art of sharing control

January 24, 2011: 10:49 AM ET

While the thought of sharing control of your company can be nerve-wracking, those who have been through the transition swear by having a second set of hands. As long as they're the right hands.

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis, contributor

Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page with outgoing CEO Eric Schmidt. Expanding the leadership team is a natural step when a company's growth outpaces the skill set or capacity of its original founders.

Since founding Secure Enterprise Computing in 1998, chairman Randall Bennett has seen business boom -- and bust. But when the demand for security technology began to crest a couple years ago, he knew that he didn't want to miss the opportunity to grow his company. He also knew that to ride the wave, he'd need to expand his leadership team and share control of the business.

"You can have 100% of nothing or 50% of millions," Bennett says. "I've seen a lot of entrepreneurs fail over the years. They're not able to give up [control]."

The solution: bringing on Robert Pickens as president and chief operating officer of the Morrisville, N.C.-based firm last year. Pickens advocated a narrower strategic focus and implemented quarterly reports and a suite of metrics that give top managers an up-to-date picture of how the business is doing. With Pickens heading up operations, Bennett now has more time to develop new business and serve as the face of the company at community and industry gatherings. More

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