Mark Gorman | Crain's Pittsburgh

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Mark Gorman

Background:  

Matrix Solutions is a sales platform for media companies that’s designed to make sales more efficient, targeted and profitable.

The Mistake:

I didn’t have all the core components to be a successful leader and people in my organization were floundering.

I’ve spent most of my career working in the financial industry. After working for other people and as a partner, I decided in 2006 to start my own boutique investment bank. We were a small business that began with three people and grew to nine.

We were profitable, but I soon realized that I didn’t have all core components to be a successful leader. I approached my business in a way that worked well for me and wrongly assumed that everyone I was working with was on the same page as me. I viewed them as equals. The truth was my co-workers were floundering and waiting for me to lead them. I didn’t offer any direction and became frustrated when something wasn’t happening. I was taking over their work to get the job done and [I] was killing myself.

While we were profitable, we weren’t working well together as a team. I thought the problem was the chemistry of the people in the organization. I was in the middle of this storm and didn’t have the insight to see the mistakes that I was making.

Being a leader required me to sit down with people and give them concrete guidance.

The Lesson:

The turning point for me was the realization that I wasn’t giving people the direction and vision they needed to do their jobs effectively. I had managed teams in the past, but I’d never run my organization. Being a leader required me to sit down with people and give them concrete guidance. I needed to become a partner and outlet for the people that I worked with; it needed to be a hand-in-hand experience.

I feel more comfortable now in my role running the company and giving the people that I work with a vision for the future. I give employees a lot of freedom. When I see problems cropping up, I sit down with them and ask them what we can do together to change this instead of stepping in and trying to do it all. I listen to them and course-correct, becoming a mentor in the process.

Employees can get myopic in the day to day. You have to help them think beyond those boundaries and give them permission to break free of the chains that are holding them back and creatively address each situation and take ownership of the solution.

Follow Mark Gorman @MatrxSolutions

Image courtesy of Matrix Solutions​

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