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How to build a successful leadership team

Answers to common questions about how to ‘transition from entrepreneur to CEO’

Leadership team
Leadership team

Nothing drives business success better than a top-tier leadership team.

But for business owners looking to scale up, building that team can be a daunting task, says Pascal St-Jean, co-founder of business advisory group STAND Advisors.

“Making the transition from entrepreneur to CEO can be difficult if you aren’t surrounded by the right people,” says St-Jean. “For many entrepreneurs, this is the first time they’ve had to put a team together, and it’s hard to know where to start.”

STAND Advisors helps clients across the country navigate this foundational period by applying its “10 Ts scale-up framework,” which helps leaders learn how to be accountable, delegate responsibility and – most importantly – find and develop the right talent.

Here are three common questions STAND Advisors get when helping a founder assemble a leadership team:

How do I start building my team?

Before hiring any leadership staff, it is important to have a vision for how you want the company to grow to properly measure what resources you’ll need to get there, says Robert Rudy, co-founder of STAND Advisors.

Setting specific sales goals for the next one to three years is a great way to attach a number to each scale-up progression, and can ensure a founder isn’t over-hiring or under-hiring from the beginning.


It’s also key for executives to have a set of corporate values and a sense of the workplace culture they’re looking for to help assess whether a job candidate is likely to be a good fit at the company.

In the early stages of a business, the entrepreneur is the culture, so being self-aware of your own expectations, values and habits can help avoid any future roadblocks.

“There are always going to be people who know how to do a skill, but we want the leaders we work with to find employees who are going to add value to the business and align with its growth trajectory,” says Rudy. “You gain a competitive advantage by having a focused and well matched team.”

What roles do I need?

Some business owners may assume they need to hire full time, in-house managers and directors to build out a leadership team. But that isn’t always the case, says St-Jean.

While some businesses may need a full-time team of C-suite executives, not all companies have the resources to support that level of staff.

Fractional executives or service providers can be a great middle ground for smaller, growing teams, as it allows businesses to benefit from the leadership and expertise of an experienced executive without having to hire them as a permanent employee.

“The goal is to mentor existing employees to bring them up to C-suite level by blending in outside, experienced professionals,” says St-Jean. “It creates quite a powerful dynamic without breaking the bank.”


How do I support my team once they’re hired?

Managing a leadership team is a full-time job in itself – something a lot of entrepreneurs often forget.

Both Rudy and St-Jean say it isn’t uncommon for founders to struggle with delegating tasks to their executives, since they are accustomed to taking a hands-on approach to running their business.

“We call it delegating without authority,” says Rudy. “CEOs think they’re handing over a task to another manager, but they aren’t giving that person the authority to make decisions or really take ownership of that task, which can foster distrust in a workplace.”

To ensure a leadership team is thriving, Rudy says it’s vital to communicate clear objectives and levels of responsibility, as well as provide staff with development opportunities to further their skillset.

Working with a team such as STAND Advisors can help businesses with those key foundational elements to ensure they are set up for success.

Every company STAND works with has a dedicated advisor to guide them through the scale-up process.

And, with opportunities to connect with other STAND clients during learning workshops, businesses are given the toolkit to not only reach the top of their sector – but stay there.

A national partnership to fuel growth

STAND Advisors has partnered with BDO Canada to support businesses and their leadership teams in overcoming their barriers to growth and performance while adapting to current market conditions.

As a well-established professional services firm, BDO is known for helping clients address their unique business challenges, providing the expertise and solutions that align to the business’ ultimate goals and objectives. BDO was a natural industry partner for the advisory firm, says STAND Advisors co-founder Pascal St-Jean. 

“In order for us to scale up our business, we needed to find great advisors that understood STAND’s approach and aligned with our vision,” he says. “That’s exactly what we found in BDO.” 

Using STAND Advisors’ 10 T’s scale-up framework, the two organizations will help business owners and leaders overcome common growth challenges and provide clients with the tools they need to be successful on their own. 

“The STAND approach provides a growth and strategy springboard for SMBs; this is a pragmatic and accessible solution for our growth-minded clients who may be struggling to reach scale,” adds Anna Giampà, director of strategy consulting at BDO Canada LLP.

By bringing “Fortune 500-level services to local businesses,” the partnership will help companies stay at the top of their game, St-Jean says.

And, by leveraging BDO’s client-centric engagement methodology, the duo will be able to pair the right advisor with the right client, ensuring a strong and reliable partnership.

“We are excited to embark on this strategic partnership with STAND Advisors; this collaboration enables BDO to significantly enhance our service offerings to small and medium enterprises,” says Kelly Campbell, a strategy consulting partner at BDO Canada LLP.