Starting-up is difficult. Building a company which you hope would be your legacy is a Herculean challenge. Especially, when you know you’ve got a great idea, the skill, and probably even the expertise to execute it, but little experience when it comes to leading an entire pack. And building a legacy is all about building a pack that is ever-growing.
Leaders in start-ups often fail to steer clear of some potholes which could lead to their downfall. Here are some questions you can ask yourself that may help you steer away:
-How enthusiastic are you?
This is one of the most simple yet puzzling things a leader can ask himself- How excited are you to do this? If you are talking about building a legacy, you are thinking generations ahead. The passion and enthusiasm that you carry from the start will dictate the passion that will run in the veins of your successors.
Yes, the hectic schedules, shift in moods, and ups and downs of the business, make it hard for a leader to appear jolly and ‘Aal eez well’ all the time. But to inspire, is to lead. And your energy and enthusiasm does half the job there.
Be a role model to your team as you take criticism and negativity in the right spirit. That reflects your passion and restlessness. Be hungry for more, and keep on your toes. Smile as much as you can, because you chose this road, and you ought to show that you are excited to do the distance!
-How well do you communicate?
It is as important to let your team know what the company is going through, as it is to put on a brave face during times of peril. Lack of transparency leads to lack of trust, and this affects productivity to a large amount. Many leaders keep to e-mails and online threads, and forget to maintain a personal relationship with their team. Even in a digital world like ours, that is not entirely effective.
This, like all of the points in this article, applies to managers, as well as team leaders. Problems and challenges must be taken on with collective team effort. This is a very positive way of building a family feeling in the company. Do not let an employee feel hesitant to approach you with a problem, lest it gets bigger by the time it reaches you.
-How organised are you?
It’s hard to get people to follow you if you don’t seem organised. You need to value your time and everybody else’s, for the efficiency levels to soar. Everybody sets up calendars and schedules for meetings and deadlines. But that is not all it takes to spell O-R-G-A-N-I-S-A-T-I-O-N. Organisation is directly related to how strong your vision is. If you can see ahead, plan ahead, and ensure its execution, your organisation will surely succeed.
-How far does your vision go?
“Management has a lot to do with answers. Leadership is a function of questions. And the first question for a leader always is: ‘Who do we intend to be?’ Not ‘what are we going to do?’
but ‘who do we intend to be?’
Now you’ve got a great idea, but do you know where exactly you want to go with it? If you do not know where you want your company to be in the next 10 years, or 50 years even, you will not be able to convince your clients, investors, or employees of its longevity.
This helps in keeping your company more organised, because you are not wasting time on things that do not fall under your vision. Many companies start off as one thing, see the money coming from elsewhere, get attracted, and lose focus.
Stick to your vision, and be firm as a leader with exactly what you would or would not do for your business.
-How fair are you?
Now, this isn’t a question of your skin colour. Though it does affect many people’s career graphs all over the world. Ensure you are not enabling that. Do not hire or evaluate employees based on colour, race, or just because they share the same hometown as yours. Even while encouraging your employees, you have to be vary of those who brown nose. Some of the most valuable employees, just come in, do their work and leave. It’s easy to miss them, and not show them you value them in time.
You may not be able to get along with everyone on a personal note. Do not let that come in your way. Gauge the work they are doing/ or have the potential to do for you, and lead them accordingly. People who moderately procrastinate, or some times seem hard to tame, may be very talented, and that guy who comes at 9:00 am sharp and leaves at 5:00 pm sharp, may not necessarily be the most efficient of the lot. Keep the exceptions in mind, because when you are just starting a company every salary you pay is of great importance to your business.
Ensure you have strict policies on sensitive things like sexual harassment, maternity leaves, etc. Especially, while you’re running a start-up, every employee is valuable to you, and any black mark in the way your organisation works could lead to a steep downfall.
-How well do you respond to change?
I know there has been a lot of stress on focus in this article, but that isn’t the same thing as having a one-track mind. It’s important to switch channels every once in a while, because we cannot ignore the fact that things do change. Keep an eye out for competition and change in the market, and if you are not the first one to suggest it, don’t be shy to take an employee’s advice if it makes sense. Do not let your ego or arrogance come in the way of saving your own face.
Bill Gross, the founder of Idealab, says on a Ted Talk (Link below), that timing is the single most important factor in the success of a business. This means some times you need to grab an opportunity when it comes your way, or let go of a feature on your app when you know the time for it has passed.
Observe your failures and fix them in time, this makes you seem like the open leader people want to approach with their ideas, which could be the next big thing.