6 tips for better start-up leadership
1. Get a mentor
We have spoken on these pages before of the benefits of finding a mentor to support an individual’s professional and executive development. This is certainly true for the leaders of start-ups, who will have multiple responsibilities, minimal free time and incredible stresses to cope with. Having an impartial mentor who is set apart from this more manic existence can provide invaluable and measured advice, and allows a leader to gain from the experience of someone who might have been through something similar.
2. Be the example
All leaders should set an example for their followers. In a start-up, with a presumably small workforce and perhaps far less distinction between roles, this should still be a focus. A leader needs to demonstrate the attributes they look for in their reports – whether it’s the level of effort they put in, their punctuality, their focus on quality or their dress sense. Reports will follow your example, so best make it a good one.
3. Understand you have lots to learn
Even getting a start-up to a point where you open your doors for business is a massive achievement, but this should not distract a leader with a overwrought sense of accomplishment. There is still plenty left to learn about your business, your leadership skills and the way that you will guide your organisation to future success. Understand that you are not the finished article (nobody is) and always be ready to learn something new.
Even in a small office with few employees, great communication skills are still essential for getting things done. To be sure that you are properly understood, be clear on the message that you intend to convey; consider the audience you are addressing; and confirm understanding with the audience.
5. Stay consistent
Start-ups are particularly lively and energetic places to work, and this is often the appeal for their employees. At the same time, people still need to see consistency from their leader, in terms of the vision that they are driving towards and the overarching approach they take to get there. This doesn’t mean you have to stay static, but does require that you have a particular direction that your employees know you are aiming for.
6. Know when to delegate
As a start-up leader, you may be fulfilling many different roles and responsibilities – encompassing everything from sales and marketing, to HR and IT. While this might be borne of necessity, you should also make sure you are not unnecessarily undertaking too much. Delegate tasks where necessary and be prepared to grant the authority so that reports can get the job done without you.
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