“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” Jim Rohn
Imagine a situation where one has the responsibility to lead a group of type A personalities, fend off large competitors, double business revenue every quarter, attract quality talent without paying them adequately, develop multiple product/service offerings in parallel, work on a shoestring budget, all this, while keeping everyone motivated and happy, without compensating them, not nearly enough. Welcome to the world of startup leadership! If anyone wants a crash course to test their threshold levels, this is definitely a job you should think about. After having said that, I have found it to be a highly rewarding and satisfying experience. This is definitely not a role everyone can fill. This role requires an individual passionate about the work the work at hand, extremely ambitious, patient and able to fight the lowest of lows and celebrate the victories.
The above mentioned qualities are those I have found as a constant in a host of successful entrepreneurs I have met and learnt immensely from. I have had the opportunity to be in leadership positions a couple of times and have learnt tremendously from these opportunities. One of the most marked differences in a start-up as compared to say leading a division at a multinational company is the mindset. Although both positions have similar job descriptions, they require very different individuals. I realized early in life I wanted to walk down the path less travelled. This may have been the result of my early exposure to the world of business, the fame and fortune which I thought only came from setting up companies called…Yahoo, and a very strong gut feeling.
When I actually found myself in a position of leadership for the first time, it was a new and exciting experience. Suddenly a huge responsibility was on my hands and a lot more was expected of me. However as time went by, I became more comfortable with this responsibility and eventually started enjoying it thoroughly. Over the last couple of years of being associated with various startups in different positions, a couple of key factors come to mind, I believe they can dramatically help make your startup more productive, efficient and fun to work at. I will be outlining each of these factors in the coming series, I hope to get some feedback and comments on your experiences in leading startup teams.