5 big leadership strategies for startup success

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Strong leadership is a crucial component of any business’s success.

In a startup it’s even more critical as you have a small team with each person responsible for a wide range of jobs and limited time to devote to each. The good news? Anyone can improve their leadership skills with time, effort, and focus.

Here are five strategies that will help you improve your leadership capabilities today:

  • Take ownership
  • Show value
  • Give responsibility
  • Practice humility
  • Keep learning

These strategies encourage employee engagement and commitment, which translates into business and revenue growth.

Let’s look at each one in more detail.

Take ownership over the development and growth of the business

It is vital to develop good relationships with your employees and to work in the business hands-on when needed. However, being the leader or CEO requires you to take the lead and to set the long-term vision and strategy for the company. All of this while still keeping an eye on the competitive marketplace and future-proofing the business.

It’s a question of balance. But it’s important that it doesn’t swing too far in the direction of being too hands-on. In fact, a survey of over 1,000 CEOs across six countries identified that high-level leaders (rather than hands-on) are the most effective. This is particularly true in industries that are more skill-intensive and complex.

Here’s how to own your business’s vision and growth:

  • Focus on your hiring strategy to make sure you have the right people in the right positions.
  • Define roles and set the meeting rhythm so you can be confident in the day-to-day running of the business.
  • Invest the majority of your time in creating the strategy, leading the vision, and modelling the company culture.
  • Be sure to check in regularly with your key leaders to ensure the strategy is being implemented effectively.

As speaker and author Tony Robbins advises, don’t let “the limits of what has been done in the past shape your decisions.”

Show employees they are valued

The culture you create as leader is what enables your employees to feel valued and secure. When employees thrive in the five elements of wellbeing, their performance improves, time off decreases, and customer satisfaction increases.

The five elements are:

  • Purpose: Finding meaning and enjoyment in your daily life and working towards goals.
  • Social: Developing supportive relationships and feeling loved.
  • Financial: Finding an economic balance to create security and minimise stress.
  • Community: Being proud of where you live and feeling safe there.
  • Physical: Having the energy and good health to achieve and function well.

With the divide between professional and personal life growing ever dimmer, it’s more important than ever that businesses take a holistic approach and put in place a programme for employee wellbeing.

Leaders play a key role in both implementing these programmes and ensuring their success by creating a positive culture in which employee happiness and health is valued, and people are encouraged to take advantage of the wellbeing offering.

Consider what your business can offer employees to help them thrive in the five elements of wellbeing, invite them to take part, and of course model good practice by taking part yourself.

Give responsibility for important work to other people

Employees perform best when given responsibility over their work and held accountable for the results – while being supported through training, development, and resourcing. As a leader, you set the agenda for job roles and for delegating the workload.

Make sure that employees are clear on what their responsibilities are and how their work will be measured. There also needs to be purpose behind their role (one of the five elements of wellbeing). For work to be purposeful, it needs to have meaning within the business, and the employee needs to understand that meaning.

When engagement is high (with meaningful work, training, development, and resources in place) the employee will be committed and motivated to do their best work. This is good for the person and for the business. Time and again, companies with strong employee commitment have greater revenue growth.

Practice humility and show your humanity

Focusing on the wellbeing of your employees and putting what’s good for the business before your own needs will inspire the loyalty and commitment of your employees.

People want to work for someone they trust, and this trust is earned through your daily commitment to the business and the people in it. Model the behaviours you wish to see and lead your company’s culture by example.

Stay positive. Work hard. As tech entrepreneur Farhan Masood said, “Surround yourself with self-motivated go-getters, read and believe the success stories, stay a mile away from negative people, negative arguments and negative news.”

Show that you are human and don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes. Although you are leading the company, you are still one of the people. Employees will appreciate seeing your weaknesses as well as your strengths.

Keep learning

No one knows everything. The best leaders will admit when they don’t know something, seek to find an answer or solution, and share their learnings with the organisation. When the leader is willing to learn and grow, this sets the example for innovation and growth in the business.

With this learning state of mind, embrace your role as leader and the opportunity to grow and develop your leadership skills. Implement these five key strategies and see how your employee commitment improves and business results follow.



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