Everybody thinks they’re a leader, but most are far from it. Successful startups, at all levels, depend on leadership and the ability of a few to organize both day-to-day and long-term goals. On the face of it, this sounds simple, but the reality is that not everyone is cut out to lead and to run a successful startup. It requires a certain mindset and armory of skills. These eight tips can help you lead your team.
1. Be confident, passionate and positive
Confidence is addictive, and if you show a confident face, your team will also become empowered. That leads to strong, positive teams who are able to hit the ground running. Passion and enthusiasm are contagious. Great leaders are passionate about what they do, and they strive to share that passion with everyone around them. Positivity ties in with passion but sometimes positivity is harder to spread than negativity. Research has found that positive thinking is more beneficial to a team than any other non-financial motivator, and it promotes a healthy team mind-set.
Project teams run on planning. But the planning your company does needs to be carried out with the entire team, so that they all feel like they are part of the company and its decisions, rather than having a process being imposed on them. Every leader needs to have a clear vision of what they are aiming for and what the end goal is.
3. Be responsible
A leader is someone a team wants to follow, usually because they have shown personal integrity and do not shy away from what may be unpopular but necessary decisions. A responsible leader acts selflessly and in the interests of the team. A responsible leader exercises insightful judgment based on facts and gathered data rather than jumping to conclusions.
4. Motivate and be humble
Vision is a clear idea of where you’re going. A sense of purpose is about understanding why you’re going there. People like to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves, and great leaders give people that feeling. Team members will only perform well if they are motivated and can see the reasons for doing something. It is a core skill of a great leader to make their team want to achieve. In addition, great leaders are humble. They don’t allow their position of authority to make them feel that they are better than anyone else. Be a better leader by being humble, smiling at everyone, showing genuine concern and helping as much you can wholeheartedly.
5. Understand your team
Great leaders make it clear that they welcome challenges, criticism and viewpoints other than their own. No matter the situation, showing the person you are working with that you are on the same team can go a long way. No team will be 100 percent effective all of the time, and team members will have off days. Spending time understanding the individual members of your group and recognizing any issues, either work or personal, that may affect them in the workplace will go a long way. Understanding your team will also allow you to identify their professional strengths and weaknesses and give them appropriate roles within the team.
6. Embrace workers of all ages
Many startups try to assemble young, dynamic teams. The savvy leader will look to include more seasoned people on a team and embrace their knowledge and experience. A recent report prepared for the British government suggested that this sector of the workforce had more to offer than those fresh into the workplace, making them extremely valuable. Older workers have much to offer and can be great mentors to younger team members who may not have experienced some of the problems older workers have encountered.
7. Provide appropriate resources
Teams can’t work without the right tools and materials. It is your responsibility as a leader to ensure that they have what they need. That means that you may have to assist team members if they are tasked with something that requires resources and are reticent to push for them. But it will also mean ensuring that senior management — who may themselves be battling business costs — provide everything that is needed to complete a project.
8. Communicate at all levels
Communication is the real work of leadership. It’s a fundamental element of how leaders accomplish their goals each and every day. As an effective leader, you are going to have to engage people at all levels of business and ensure that they understand exactly what is needed of them. A good communicator is able to get a message across and diffuse any ambiguity. People will come away understanding the message and be ready to follow your lead.