Guest: Kurt Wilkin, Co-Founder and former CEO of HireBetter (one of our Strategic Partners) and a Managing Partner of Bee Cave Capital. Kurt is also the author of a new book, Who’s Your Mike? A No-BS Guide to the People You’ll Meet on Your Entrepreneurial Journey.
Overview: A fast-growing company will only keep accelerating towards BIG if it has the right people working the right jobs. Sometimes CEOs can maintain that alignment with a mission and values system that inspires good performers to become great. In other cases, CEOs need the courage to make difficult decisions and the EQ to help folks exit the company as gracefully as possible.
On today’s show, Kurt Wilkin discusses how CEOs can avoid some common people challenges and assemble next-level teams that will Make BIG Happen.
Kurt Wilkin on knowing who you need and tempering expectations:
“The biggest mistake I think leaders are making, especially high-growth companies, is failing to understand exactly what they need. Not what they think they need or what an advisor might think they need, but what they truly need to really understand where you’re going as an organization and what those key skills are, as opposed to just cobbling together a job description. Sometimes entrepreneurs and companies are looking for the wrong talent. Or, they think there’s going to be a ‘silver bullet’ that’s going to save their day. Looking for a superhero to come in and make their company — that’s usually a recipe for disaster.”
Kurt Wilkin on identifying and managing his “Mike”:
“‘Mike’ is a key lieutenant who’s been with you for many years. The example in my book is he was your buddy who turned into your accountant, your bookkeeper, comptroller, and ultimately became your CFO as you grew and titles were cheap. At some point, you look up after exponential growth, and Mike’s in over his head. He’s trying to do things he’s never done before. He’s working his tail off, but he just doesn’t know how to get to that next level because he’s never done it. Every entrepreneur either has a Mike, has had a Mike, or will have a Mike. And the number one question I get from my entrepreneurial buddies or people who read the book is, ‘What if I’m Mike?’ Maybe there’s going to be a point where you need to bring in the next-level leader for your role and bring in a CEO, which is exactly what I did with HireBetter. I stepped aside a few years ago. But if you have the capability to be a lifelong learner, and you’re willing to be coached, that’s a step you could take if you want to stay in that chair. Surround yourself with experienced talent who can help you get there.”
Kurt Wilkin on the dangers of delaying tough people decisions:
“Team members who you don’t want to fire, but they’re no longer filling the role that you want them to — our natural tendency is to reassign them or find a role for them. We call that character ‘Bounce-Around Betty’ in my book, just going from job to job. Some of that can be healthy if it’s a great employee and you can put them in the right role. And some of it can be toxic if the person continues to bounce and underperform. That can be a long-term problem for your company if you hold onto people too long, just because you don’t want to have that hard discussion and make that hard decision. Those conversations don’t happen soon enough. And usually that person is going to be in a better spot after they manage their own change. Usually they come out in the right role or the right career, maybe even start their own business. It’s amazing how many good things come out of those challenges.”
The Key to Hiring Next-Level Talent in a Post-Pandemic World – In his previous appearance on our podcast, Kurt Wilkin discussed why businesses that are stuck in a pre-pandemic mindset have to improve their value propositions and get creative about attracting the best talent.
3 Keys to Finding the Best Talent for Your Executive Team – CEO Coaching International’s Gordon Forsythe discusses how to vet and hire talent who will succeed within your culture and execute the tasks that will Make BIG Happen for your firm.
About CEO Coaching International
CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 53.5% during their time as a client, more than three times the U.S. average, and a revenue CAGR of 26.2%, nearly twice the U.S. average.