The Weight of Decisions – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: July 16, 2022

The Weight of Decisions:

This week we will continue the series on sharing key concepts for leaders to consider when thinking about making a career transition from a large multi-national company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage business. The trend continues to be observed with today’s Great Resignation and the reality for many that the concept of working for and retiring from one company over the course of a career is no longer the dream it once was and today’s leaders are yearning to create their own unique path to a fulfilling professional journey.

The focus for today’s topic is on helping leaders understand the personal weight that is felt in making decisions in an early-stage venture compared to those in a large company. Leaders emerging from a career in a large company are typically well grounded with a high degree of ethics. The values established by many large companies support an effective work environment and positive community engagement. Large companies train leaders well in delivering on these values to support a healthy culture for the business. These foundational experiences for leaders are critically important to writing their next chapter outside of a large company.

Based on some real-world experience and having guided others in this journey, leaders transitioning into an early-stage business will often feel they are somewhat alone on their own island in making some difficult decisions. Navigating complex business decisions in the early-stage often seem to land in a gray area versus the black and white ethical dilemma taught in leadership development programs in large companies. The fact is that the environment of a large company often makes these dilemmas easier to identify and address. When you add the pressure of investor commitments to achieve certain milestones within specific timeframes and the desire to keep the company moving forward with needed capital, the environment is ripe for ethical challenges in leading an early-stage business.   

We have all seen over the years some poor ethical decisions made by some leaders in an early-stage, rapidly growing business. It is only those who have been down this path who can appreciate that there are always two sides to every story — and often only one side makes it into the media. 

Early-stage leaders often find themselves faced with complex decisions with no one around to challenge the ethics, investors want results, and the timeline is blinking red/critical. Leaders in the early-stage often feel an immense ethical weight on their shoulders in making these decisions. Experience would say that a trusted advisor is often needed on an ongoing basis to support leaders in navigating these key moments.

A different level of pressure is felt when leading an early-stage company compared to the pressure of being a senior leader in a large company. The common thread of principle-based behavior and ethical decision making is present in all environments, but the support and guardrails are well positioned in large companies. They are not so present in early-stage ventures.  

We have found that leaders at all levels need the support of a trusted advisor to help them shoulder the burden of the many complex business decisions that also press hard into ethical “gray areas” in the marketplace.  As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, maintaining a principled approach to decision making is critical and we all need a trusted advisor to lean on for support in those dark difficult moments.     

How can I help you today? My mobile is 269-370-9275 and my email is

Please download some FREE resources at I hope you find them helpful in your journey.

Also, for those leaders in healthcare, I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage of healthcare. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.