Great leadership can mean the difference between success and failure in the startup business. Things move so quickly and small mistakes can grow, so having a strong leader in place is essential.
Throughout our short history in Tech Collective, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting some of the best and frankly, worst, leaders in the startup industry. We’re going to ignore the worst traits for now and focus on the 10 things we felt great leader do instinctively.
Think outside of the box
Don’t be the person who has no vision or is afraid to take risks. Startups need to be disruptive or different to stand out against larger competitors with deeper pockets.
Challenge the status quo and channel the leaders who created change rather than rode along with the flow.
Take this to heart and follow through. Ask yourself, if you would you follow someone that you don’t trust? Neither will your team or your customers. Keep your word and be honest throughout the process, so your team knows they can count on you.
Be a great communicator
Storytellers make great leaders because they communicate very well. Great leaders communicate at all levels. They tend to use stories to get their ideas across. Rather than be a stoic and silent figure at the top, work on crafting engaging and informative narratives for your business that inspires your team.
Create and embody a team spirit
Be inclusive and encouraging, all the time. Your startup is only as good as the people behind it, so building a team culture that focuses on a shared goal can really help push your company ahead.
Don’t be a d#$%*#d
This doesn’t mean you have to be the fun boss or everyone’s friend, but bad or weak bosses are ones that typically devalue their employees and treat them like a disposable commodity. Just try to be a decent person.
Respect other’s opinions and seek out differing points of view rather than disregard them. In startups, you need to be more approachable and a strong commitment to being a decent person may be your first step towards becoming a better leader.
Be forward thinking
Having great court vision is crucial on a basketball court and it is the same in the business world. Work to connect different ideas from multiple sources within your business, which can become the next big thing in your company. Sometimes being able to piece together an idea is more valuable than providing the idea in the first place.
Be an Enabler
They say the most important role of a leader is to enable others to succeed.
Inevitably, your team will face resistance and adversity in the job and you have to be there to see them through. Be a leader that they can count on by identifying and knocking out the organizational roadblocks that can hinder your team’s success.
Never stop teaching
One of the most frustrating things we hear is that entrepreneurs are looking for people they don’t have to teach. No matter how senior or experienced you are, you need always teach them something, otherwise, why would they work for you. I
One of your key roles as a leader is to develop those that work for you. Don’t forget to continually teach and coach your team. Its a shared goal and success, so working together to help your team grow is crucial to a startup’s success.
Recognise effort and success
Bonuses and promotions shouldn’t only go to people with good numbers and high profile successes. In a startup, sometimes we’re tasked with projects that are almost definitely going to fail, but on the off chance of a lucky strike, we take the risk. Therefore, the team behind it shouldn’t be punished if they give their best.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t recognise results too. It’s essential that you recognize results. If you fairly disseminate praise and rewards based on results and not favouritism, they’ll know that they can succeed and be rewarded fairly for good work.
Don’t get too close
We live and breathe our startups and the products, but good leaders are ones that keep it fresh and challenging. One way to accomplish this is to adopt an outsider’s point of view of your operation.
You have to be able to envision how your team and business are represented in the eyes of your stakeholders, and you just may see ways to make things better for your business and properly motivate your team.