Founder's Syndrome, otherwise known as Founderitis, isn't a good thing for employees or employers. (Disclaimer & Warning: This post features extreme bouts of sarcasm.)
Symptoms of Founderitis
1. Leaders suffering from Founderitis lead with a sense of having to be a part of every decision and having to know what's going on at all times… Argh! Employees need to feel empowered and trusted.
2. They tend to hire people who are friends and family, which is great for mutual comfort but not for growth and business.
3. They hire thought leaders, subject matter experts, and highly-qualified individuals; then leaders suffering from Founderitis quickly discredit their decisions and initiatives because they are unwilling to share the limelight. Hence the new Vice President of Research & Development that leaves after 6 months.
4. They over-step boundaries with their staff, especially with employees who have been there since the beginning.
5. They change their minds on major decisions at will, without thinking about how it looks and feels to everyone in the organization. This creates a reactive dynamic instead of responsive one, which leads to chronic bouts of employee eye-rolling and not taking "the next big idea" seriously.
6. They tend towards narcissism, and unknowingly treat others with arrogance and lack of respect. This eventually cultivates teams of people with battered egos and low self-esteem who stick it out because they don't think they can do better or who want to build experience so they can take it somewhere else.
If you find yourself looking to work for a growing organization where the founder or founders are known to be hands-on, research their backgrounds (note: serial entrepreneurs are often serial for a reason ─ they can't grow companies or build them). Look for longevity and tenure when researching a founder’s background of engagements. This helps affirm that you have a loyal, committed, and emotionally intelligent founder. A track record of progressive leadership in growing corporate environments is good reassurance for the most part.
If you're already working in an organization where the founders are key players and you're feeling a sense of "yuck". It could be that you've been faced with an organization that's been tainted by Founder's Syndrome. It's a hard challenge to beat. These environments are not for the faint of heart, and in my mind you've got to love them or leave them.