Startup Leadership That Works for Your Business

Women leads team at her startup

The ability to authentically motivate yourself and your team daily is an essential characteristic of a startup leader. People like to feel part of something greater than themselves, and great leaders give them that feeling. It may be counterproductive for many founders, but one of the biggest differences you’ll see with executives is that they care deeply about the company or product and, above all, the people on their team. They understand that if they care enough about their team, its members will love their work and the company.

Leaders must inspire their teams by leading by example. Team members perform better when they’re motivated and see a reason for it. Vision, objectives, teamwork, communication, and accountability are important aspects of corporate governance and ingredients for success.

Companies achieve great things when founders surround themselves with people who share their vision and believe in what they do. Leaders guide the growth of their companies by setting the framework and culture. Being a leader requires a vision for your company, finding people who agree with that vision, and maintaining that alignment over time.

Interpersonal skills are as important in startups as they are in any other type of business. Success is not based on a great idea, a solid business model, or a qualified team. Startups will only be successful if they form a great team and heed the advice of their teams.

Good leadership can be the difference between success and failure for a company (more than 50% of startups fail within the first five years), and proper leadership is critical to the growth of a new company. It’s the leader of a startup that makes the decisions that shape the future of the company, and those decisions like attitude, direction, and approach are all important to deal with.

Most founders don’t come to their startups with years of leadership experience. Building a team requires founders to be acutely aware of their strengths and weaknesses and to close the gaps that arise when they hire for a position that authentically motivates needed at an early stage of the company. Startup leaders must be willing to change their leadership approach if their boards and investors end up doing the same for them, and data shows that venture capitalists are replacing 20% to 40% of their founders with experienced professional managers at critical junctures of startup growth.

Since not all founders have leadership experience, it’s not surprising that they make mistakes.

Leadership means something different in a startup environment than in an established company. Leadership is an important point in the business lifecycle, and during the startup phase, the quality of leadership can determine whether a company kicks off. It’s leadership that determines whether your company is a winner, and there are many good managers and few great executives.

Startups often face the task of filling authority positions with the original team, say the first five to ten employees. It’s rare for a startup to assemble the first team around a leader. If that’s the case, it’s usually because you already have one or two managers with medium experience and a few working bees.

The rapid development of startups as a company requires the management team to be active in short, intensive cycles. When business founders relocate to meet new-found needs, or if they do not apply the same logic as before, they run into trouble.

Startup leaders often forget that changes in the economy require a re-evaluation of their own leadership approach. Not all leaders are born to lead, and not all leaders succeed. Good leaders know how to feed themselves and encourage their teams to develop their skills and work outside their comfort zone.

To prolong life and make a company successful, it’s about quality leadership and quality teams. Successful startups at all levels depend on the leadership skills of a few who can organize the day-to-day and the long-term goals. Successful teams are built on mutual trust and a degree of trust in leadership, which in turn requires leaders to be able to communicate effectively and ensure that goals are understood. To be an effective leader, you need to engage with people at all levels of the organization to make sure they understand the needs of their environment. In a startup environment, leaders work closely with their teams, and employees need to know that they can rely on leadership for thoughtful leadership and support.