In the savannahs of Africa, an ancient proverb whispers, “Go fast, go alone. Go far, go together.” This age-old wisdom is more relevant today than ever, especially when viewed through the lens of business and, more specifically, the corporate boardroom.
The entrepreneurial spirit is both a blessing and a curse. Founders, burning with the fire of a new idea, often sprint towards their vision with single-minded determination. It’s a “go fast, go alone” approach. While this energy is invaluable in the early days of a start-up, as the company grows, the journey becomes more intricate. Scaling a business is not just about increasing revenue or expanding market share; it involves navigating complex challenges, multiple stakeholders, and a myriad of strategic decisions.
This is where the “go far, go together” philosophy becomes paramount. As businesses mature, the solo sprint transforms into a marathon, demanding resilience, shared vision, and collaboration. One way founders ensure they don’t just go fast but go far is by bringing non-executive directors (NEDs) into the boardroom.
1. The Value of an External Perspective
While founders are deeply entrenched in their vision and operations, NEDs bring an external perspective, untainted by daily operational challenges. They can ask the tough questions, challenge assumptions, and offer insights based on their varied experiences. This fresh viewpoint can be the difference between remaining stagnant and breaking through to new growth horizons.
2. Balancing Risk and Reward
Founders are inherently risk-takers. It’s this appetite for risk that often leads to breakthrough innovations. However, as businesses grow, unchecked risk can become a liability. NEDs, with their breadth of experience, can offer a balanced perspective on risk management. They can advise on when to push the boundaries and when to consolidate.
3. Networking and Access
NEDs typically come with a wealth of connections and networks. Their introduction can open doors to new business opportunities, strategic partnerships, or even potential investors. Founders can leverage this network to accelerate growth and ensure sustainability.
4. Mentorship and Growth
A founder’s journey is fraught with challenges. The highs are ecstatic, but the lows can be deeply isolating. NEDs can act as mentors, guiding founders through the rough patches, offering advice, and most importantly, providing emotional support. They’ve been there, seen the challenges, and their wisdom can be invaluable.
5. Stewardship and Governance
As companies grow, so does the scrutiny. Regulatory compliance, corporate governance, and ethical considerations become critical. NEDs, having served on other boards, understand these complexities. Their guidance ensures that the company not only grows but does so responsibly.
While the adrenaline rush of “going fast and going alone” is exhilarating, it’s the measured, collaborative approach of “going far, going together” that stands the test of time.
By incorporating non-executive directors into the boardroom, founders ensure they have the best of both worlds, combining their innate passion and drive with the experience and wisdom of seasoned professionals. It’s not just about going fast or going far, but understanding when to do which – and having the right people on board to guide that journey.