From Founder to Forward Thinker: The Evolution of My Responsibility as Three Pillar CEO

1024 576 David DeWolf

About a week ago, Three Pillar Global’s board approved a growth plan that will drive our revenue from nearly $20MM today to $50MM over the next three years. It won’t be a cakewalk, but with a smart combination of both organic and acquisition growth, I’m confident we’ll get there. This is exceptional progress by any standard, but it’s my job to maintain that momentum.

I’ve spent plenty of time contemplating not only the strategies needed to achieve this exceptional objective but also what this goal means for me personally. I have learned over the years that my role changes with each phase of corporate growth and it would be hard to argue that targeting the $50 million mark doesn’t constitute a new phase.

In determining the next step in my evolution as CEO, I found myself reflecting on the changes that have already occurred. I’d suggest that the following steps are quite indicative of any entrepreneurial executive’s career development:

Production – In 2006, I was the company. Literally! As the first and only employee, everything produced — whether an invoice or software — was my responsibility. My job was all about getting things done. Heck, it was about getting everything done!

Management – In 2007 I brought on Three Pillar Global’s second employee, then a third, and again until we had six people on staff. My role moved from production to management. I was still required to produce, but it was even more essential that I empower and motivate others to produce right along with me. The need for management hit full maturity when I began to delegate even management responsibilities by asking our fourth employee, Brian, to help manage.

Sales – By 2008, we were realizing steady incremental growth. We had a strong foundation in place, and as we moved into the high-growth phase of the business, I needed to step into a sales role. While I didn’t totally leave management, or even production for that matter, these duties ramped down as I began to concentrate on building the business.

Strategist and Orchestrator – Starting in 2009 and continuing through 2010, while maintaining my sales responsibilities, Three Pillar Global began to demand more and more strategic thinking. It became my job to think ahead, establish guiding principles, and allow others to manage to them. It was at this point that I stepped back from production entirely. My management efforts were reduced as well. Other pros picked up the ball and I became more of an orchestrator. Moving forward, I fully expect to remain involved with certain sales initiatives, to drive our corporate strategy, and to orchestrate the executive team, but my focus now is on Three Pillar Global going forward.

How will my role continue to evolve? Over the course of the next year, I will likely continue to remove myself from nearly all operational aspects of the business in order to be out in the marketplace. I will be responsible for digesting business conditions, trends, and the market landscape in order to keep the company on its successful course. This means running six months ahead of the team while simultaneously staying connected to the pulse of our clients and employees. It’s a tall order, but it’s a balance I have to strike if I want to continue working with the team, developing essential strategies that mitigate risk, capitalize on opportunity, and ensure Three Pillar Global maintains its remarkable trajectory of success.

Check back with my blog as often as you can, because I’m going to be documenting that fight just about every step of the way! In the meantime, it would be great to hear from other executives who have experienced the same transformations. Let’s talk about the best ways to make it happen!