In my previous article, I talked about how a founder is the critical key factor in a successful pitch to potential investors. People do not invest only in a company, but they also invest in a founder.
So, what are the qualities inherent in a founder that can attract potential investors?
It can be passion, confidence and charisma, but there is an essential quality that a founder needs to truly attract investors – their leadership.
Leadership skills play an important role in the success of a company. It’s the skill of influencing and motivating the employees to put their talents to work on meeting the goals that the company have set.
So, a company without adequate leadership will suffer from losing their talented employees, and eventually, have a significant impact on the company’s operation and bottom line.
In other words, if a start-up’s founder has strong leadership skill, the company may have the potential for success in the future.
What is leadership? How does one define ‘leadership’ or a successful leader?
1. Choosing the right team, a.k.a a dream team
As an entrepreneur or business owner, you don’t want always to be the smartest person in the company. You want to surround yourself with a dream team that specialises in their roles, able to bring new knowledge, skills and experiences that will help you to reach your company’s goals.
Yet, to build a dream team, it’s not about choosing people you like or look like you, think like you or even act like you. When you hire, you should choose someone different from you.
In other words, you’re choosing people who have strengths that can complement your weaknesses. You need people with different things in their heads to help you solve different problems so that your start-up or company can make breakthroughs and develop in long-term.
2. Building a team that is strongly bound by a powerful vision
Successful leaders know the importance of developing a shared vision of a better future for their teams.
“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” – Theodore Hesburgh, President of Notre Dame University
A compelling vision enables the team to anticipate an exciting future, and it can inspire and motivate everyone to accomplish goals that have set.
You have to be clear about what you hope to achieve as your vision is the destination. And dare to dream big! You can set big visions as people want to be inspired to accomplish great things.
That’s why big companies or successful leaders have created an inspiring mission and vision statements, such as:
- Ikea – To create a better everyday life for many people.
- Microsoft – A computer on every desk and in every home.
- Starbucks – To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.
- Nike – Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world (*If you have a body, you are an athlete)
3. Developing personal and authentic relationship with team members
In the path to be a successful leader, building good relationships with your team is one of your key responsibilities. It takes time and a lot of efforts. However, it will bring significant benefits to your company’s success.
In order to do that, it’s important for you to make sure your team enjoys working with you. In general, happy employees are more productive, more aggressive and more effective.
Also, people are more likely to go along with changes that you want to implement, and they will be more innovative and creative.
Listen to your employees, recognise their emotions and use praise to motivate them. More importantly, as a leader, you should lead them by inspiring trust and confidence. These are the ways to build a positive relationship with your team.
4. Clarifying performance expectation and setting a system to results achievement
One of the top reasons for unhappiness in the workplace is terrible communication issues between the leader and their subordinates. This leads to poor performances, a lack of teamwork, low morale and reduced profits.
Very often poor leaders give unclear instructions and directions, and the incorrect assumptions that their employees have all of the information needed about what needs to be done, without having been told how things work.
Due to the miscommunication, the employee will fail to deliver the expected results, and the manager ends up blaming the employee underperforming, leading to low motivation among staff.
Thus, it’s critical for you as a leader to get everyone on the same page, and to clarify performance expectations, identifying goals, a system to measure the performance and reviewing results.
5. Creating a high energy environment
If you’re going to be a CEO/founder, it’s important for you to keep your workplace at high energy as it can determine the success of a meeting, a workday or even your overall company.
In a high energy environment, employees are innovating, displaying enthusiasm and optimism about their work. On the contrary, in a low energy environment, we will see motivation by tasks and timelines. In other words, they are busy but little excitement and passive in working.
In order to create a high energy environment, you must be a motivator, to encourage the employees and uplift the team spirit.
Here are ways to keep employees motivated:
- Offer opportunities for employees to learn new skills and self-development.
- Provide them with a pleasant place to work, to make sure they feel good to work in the environment.
- Don’t punish them when they make mistakes, instead encourage them to try again.
- Delegate and don’t micro manage which is important to build trust among you and your team.
It’s not easy being a leader when you look at these ways to build a strong leadership skill.
I’ve concluded that a successful leader is someone who not only see the bigger picture and set strategic goals but also have to lead their team and motivates them to perform at their best.