Withness

“When
did you start losing
trust
in the CTO?” I asked
the CEO.

“Our 3rd co-founder
was underperforming.
He came to us one day
to explain
that his underperformance
was due
to his father’s
illness.”
he answered.

“After he left,
the CTO told me in private
that he believed
that
was just an excuse.”
he continued.

“Sure,
it may have been
an excuse.
But the 3 of us
had been friends
for 10 years
before founding
the company.
I could easily see
how the CTO
would judge me the same way
if I were in a pinch.

I no longer felt
she was with me.”
he concluded.

The Appreciation Deadlock

A common phenomena I see among co-founders I coach is this:

  1. Founder A does something she believes Founder B should appreciate.
  2. Those are not things B actually appreciates, but B says “thanks” out of politeness.
  3. A thinks she’s done something of significant worth to B and expects a reciprocal behavior from B born out of B’s appreciation for A.
  4. B has no awareness of the expectation.
  5. A never receives the reciprocal expression.

Imagine both people doing this — thinking it’s “for” each other
While neither are feeling their needs genuinely fulfilled.

This relationship may be a ticking time bomb.
It is unlikely for people to stay in relationship
When they don’t feel appreciated.

Between Fear and Care Arises Concern

With accumulated life experience arises fear.
Between fear and care arises concern and anxiety.

Our concerns are well-intended.
Yet, when we behave out of anxiety,
it can also do harm.

How many parents ever intend to hurt their child?
Very few.
Yet, we were hurt by them.
Often by behaviors that arose out of anxiety.

I have yet to coach a CEO who does not care about their co-founders or employees.
Yet, these others were hurt by the CEO.
Often by behaviors that arose out of anxiety.
Same holds for CEOs hurt by co-founders or employees.

Not caring isn’t always the issue.
The challenge is also to care without anxiety.
It is to regulate our own tension.
A difficult, but necessary skill to learn as a leader.