This article comes from Hope Horner’s insightful talk, ‘Building effective leadership teams during times of high growth’, at our 2022 Women in SaaS Summit, check out her full presentation here.

As someone who’s started and grown multiple companies, I know firsthand how crucial - yet challenging - it is to build an effective leadership team when your business is in hypergrowth mode. 

At my current company Lemonlight, a video production platform for brands, we went through a major growth spurt in 2021, suddenly hiring over 100 new employees in just 18 months.

This explosive growth forced me to build out a strong leadership team from scratch. 

To be honest, we made pretty much every mistake in the book initially, but we've learned a ton along the way about what it takes to hire and enable managers who can guide your company through rapid expansion. 

Today, I want to share some of those hard-learned lessons with you since having the right people in the right leadership roles is make-or-break when you're scaling fast. 

So let's dive into how to get it right.

The importance of organizational design

One of the first things I had to wrap my head around was organizational design

As an efficiency-loving, process-obsessed leader, the chaos and lack of structure that comes with hypergrowth used to drive me crazy. I constantly wanted to "fix" everything before moving on to the next phase. 

But as the legendary Ben Horowitz says, 

"All organization designs are bad, since they will inherently optimize communication among some parts of the organization at the expense of others." 

In other words, you can't have perfection - some dysfunction is inevitable. The key is to be intentional about how you structure your org.

That means first taking a hard look at where your biggest knowledge and capacity gaps exist as a leadership team, those are the areas where you’ll need to hire real strategic leadership.

For example, at Lemonlight none of the co-founders had a strong technical background. So one of our first key executive hires was a VP of Technology who could provide that vision and build out the whole engineering team and process from scratch.