When we think of the words ‘start-up’ and ‘leaders’, we all have a few names that immediately spring to mind – Margaret Thatcher, Mark Zuckerberg and Michele Mone to name just a few. All of these business leaders appear to have similar qualities – they’re tenacious, confident, daring and decisive ,but ,as we know, in life, there isn’t one size fits all. Although these traits may be some of the makings of a leader within a start-up, there are other traits which are often overlooked in today’s modern world but which are just as beneficial, if not more so, in some cases.
Christina Saunders is a director of CryoAction. Here, Christina shares her thoughts on the qualities that women have, which are often overlooked or underestimated, but can be the making of a leader launching a start-up.
Like anything in life, things take time. A 2007 study by Schnitker and Davis has shown that those who have patience are more likely to have a better, calmer state of mind. With patience comes the ability to be objective and to adapt. Patience means self-control and serves to demonstrate the importance of long-term goals. Showing patience can improve a team’s productivity and instil confidence. Although, there will always be instances where leaders need to act quickly, remember – slow and steady wins the race.
Too often being empathetic can be mistaken for weakness, but this is far from the case. Showing empathy is a leadership trait that shows immense emotional intelligence and strength, all in one, and without it you cannot put yourself in the shoes of your audience. With empathy comes the ability to understand individual members of a team and with that understanding comes great leadership.
Not being the smartest person in the room
It’s natural to want to be a part of everything within your startup and to be the one with all the ideas and answers, but as Confucius said: ‘“If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.”. The people you lead are part of the team for a reason and, often, it’s because they have knowledge or skills that you don’t have. So, be aware of this, have confidence in, both, your own skills and those of the people around you and show those people that you have trust in their abilities.
Whilst there are certain things within a start-up that you may choose not to share, on the whole, being honest with your team is key to good leadership. Being open about the ups and the downs within a business shows transparency and evokes trust in your leadership, allowing others to have confidence in their own decisions, based on the information you have provided. Being honest can bring out the very best in the people you lead and you’ll be amazed at their brilliance and variety of ideas when they trust you.
Ability to accept constructive criticism
Leaders are confident, we know this, but showing confidence means being able to take, and act on, criticism. How you manage this says a lot about your leadership style. Accepting that there is always space for anyone to grow, even yourself, is important. Allowing colleagues to give upward feedback is a great way to see how you can make improvements, both, within yourself and in your startup and acting positively on that feedback is a fantastic way to boost the morale and confidence within your start up.