If you want to know if a fish is bad, look at its head, they say. No role in life is more dependent on success and failure than that of a leader. Some see the pressure that comes with managing others as a burden, others see it as a thrill. The reality is the best leaders see it as a mixture of both.
Over the last six months I have met literally hundreds of start-up founders. I have learned that there is no set personality type, barely any common identifiers, and no hard and fast formula for success.
Predicting who will be successful and who will fail is far from a perfect science, which helps to keep things interesting if nothing else. With the likelihood of a new business failing so high, however, a conservative estimate suggests that 7 out 10 start-ups will not prove to be sustainable over the long term, the acid test often comes when a business starts looking to hire.
Can you convince others to bust a gut for you and your business? Can you persuade them to give their best for you, stay with you when things get tough, and not succumb to the temptation to take the experience they have gained elsewhere?
Besides paying staff well, often not an option in the start-up world, there are many things a founder can do to keep their staff happy, on message and on the ball. Below I have identified 10 things that I have noticed successful founders do better than most. Pay attention to these key aspects of leadership and you may find that when you are out securing seed funding, talking to investors and securing the future of your business, you can feel just a little more confident that the crew back at the office are returning the favour, often with interest.
Be Fearless – a good leader is a fearless one: in business, bravery is important for two reasons. First and foremost, without it you will never get off the ground. There are always a thousand reasons not to do something, to delay making a decision, to postpone a key meeting. Often it is not the team with the best idea that succeeds, it’s the team with a leader that can execute by standing up and being counted at the right time. Secondly, this takes guts; people follow people who have guts, period. Even if you are playing the percentages, making it look like you are taking a stand entices others to show their true colours, and helps builds team spirit.