Pitfalls CEOs Make with Bruce Eckfeldt

What is the difference between being the Founder 0r the CEO of your company? According to Bruce Eckfeldt, the distinction is necessary in order to scale your business. GLO spoke with Eckfeldt, former Inc. 500 CEO and Business Coach, to better understand the shift in mindset one must take to be a successful CEO.

What is the Difference Between a Founder and a CEO?

Eckfeldt formalized himself as a business coach after growing and selling his own successful businesses and began to look into working with the leadership of companies with growth potential that hadn’t been able to scale. “I find that when businesses get stuck at that earlier stage is really about beginning to take that mindset from founder mindset to CEO mindset.” The first step is to figure out what your current growth strategy and execution plan are. As an entrepreneur, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What is the problem in the market that you am going to address?
  2. What is your solution?
  3. How will you sell your product in the market?

The distinction between the Founder and the CEO is in the approach to these questions. If you are in founder-mode, you are a planner. Your role is to figure out the problem-solution fit for your company. If you are in the CEO-mode, your role is in designing and building the company. You are the person that creates the strategies for profitability. Eckfeldt emphasizes that these roles require different mindsets, and companies often fail when their leadership is stuck between those two phases.

What is the most common thing leaders fail at when scaling their business?

Eckfeldt astutely says, “You can climb any mountain you want, not every.” A CEO needs to be self aware of their own limits. A common pitfall CEO’s make is attempting to mimic another team or strategy. Any other group is made of different people with different strengths. A leader needs to build a team based on their specific strategy. Eckfeldt often sees leadership teams who don’t have clarity on what they’re driving toward, and therefore their team is unable to motivate around that mission. He suggests mapping out where you want your company to be in ten years. It is necessary to scale your leadership skills in order to achieve your goals.

What are the key elements to scaling a business?

Eckfeldt’s key to scaling a business is creating a focused and differentiated strategy in order to get to a higher level. He has developed three steps to successfully execute your strategy.

  1. Define your target, create a strategy, and formulate a plan for exectution.
  2. Create a culture of continuous learning and improvement.
    • Things will change, and you need to create an environment where you can adjust your plans accordingly.
  3. Develop a high performance team with values of commitment and accountability.

How do I Succeed as a CEO?

In order to shift your company and yourself from a founder to a CEO mindset, you have to create a management team that can execute the visions that you set forth.

Any businesses leadership team is a function of the CEO themselves. Evaluate what skills you have as a leader, and what you do not. If you, as the founder, are more interested in product development or sales, and believe that is your strength, you should stay within that role. You can hire a CEO while still doing what you love the most about your business. But if you have the leadership and strategizing skills to effectively transform your own role with a growth mindset, you need to be active in evolving your role in your company. Developing these skills are crucial, and Eckfeldt recommends signing up for peer to peer networks such as GLO as a source of learning. Feedback is powerful, and you can learn from others in similar positions in order to become successful in your own right.

Creating Core Values

A necessary step in making the shift to the CEO mindset is establishing a shared set core values. Eckfeldt emphasizes that this is the primary way to avoid and solve conflicts. First, consider that values you are willing to give up in order to live my core values. For example, if you value transparency, you have to sacrifice privacy. That is your anti-value.

To discover your core values, look at the previous work you have done. Ask yourself where you have been successful and where you haven’t been. Every company has a set of core values that are already existing within the fabric of your dynamics. To determine these values, think about what you need to focus on to succeed within your work environment. These values are necessary for guidance and positioning of your team. Keep them posted on the walls of your office, and continually refer to them in moments of doubt.

How do I know if I have the right management team?

“A strategy is a muscle. You need to develop it.” It is the CEO’s role to stay plugged in on strategy development. Don’t hand it off to other members of the team and neglect it. Eckfeldt recommends giving your team the ideas and the goal, and allowing them to come up with the details. But you need to establish your common goals in order for your team to maintain personal accountability. It is more helpful for your team to have internal motivation than external pressure. A great leader will show them the path and motivate them to stick to it, not pressure them towards perfection.

Working Towards Growth

Eckfeldt’s advice is to experiment. Tes your leadership skills in safe ways, such as with peer groups. Don’t attempt to do this alone. You will succeed best when you have a supportive team with common goals. To watch Eckfeldt’s full interview, sign up here.


Samantha Braffman

Samantha Braffman is a Philadelphia based writer for Global Leaders Organization. She is also an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, working towards a bachelor's degree in Political Science and English.

Comments are closed here.