Katharine Wooller is the MD for Dacxi UK, a fintech platform, which seeks to be the prime source of education on crypto for retail users. As an eloquent writer and author on brand building within the financial technology and services market, Katherine explores the concept of what it means to be a truly authentic leader.
Find your why and live it every day
It’s easy to lose sight of this when you find yourself in the daily “weeds” of a business, particularly a start-up, where the founder’s job description – and working hours – are never-ending!
Let it guide every decision you make, and the only recruit those who you feel can share your vision. In doing that, you’ll make better and more intuitive decisions, which permeate through your organisation, particularly as the business (hopefully!) scales.
The motivation for starting a business is typically emotionally driven, and whilst the bottom line and operational concerns do, of course, matter, brand values and customer loyalty are created from the intangible. If you share your vision with your clients, team and suppliers, you’ll quickly demonstrate strong leadership and strengthen relationships at every level.
It is very often the case that company bosses and entrepreneurs recruit in their own image, and a warehouse full of ‘clones’ of the CEO rarely make for a happy team nor successful business. Intentionally seek out those whose skills and views subtly differ from your own, because they are much more likely to challenge your viewpoint and provide much inspiration.
Also, look to embrace variety across your team; various functions attract manifestly different personality types. Respect and encourage variation in working styles, skill sets, and communication types. The encouraging respectful debate often makes conflict easier to manage when it inevitably occurs. A cohesive team, which celebrates difference, which is greater than the total sum of its parts, is the “special sauce” to assure success in the difficult market conditions that nearly all industries currently face.
Inevitably those who are able to express themselves by working in a way that makes the most of their talents, are hugely grateful to their managers and committed to the business they work for. Hiring, and keeping good people cost money!
Acknowledge success and failure
This may also be phrased as “be human.” A hugely competitive job market means everyone is experiencing those cloned senior managers who have a hard-earned MBA and have read all the latest business theory books. They may inspire fear verging on respect, but probably not devotion.
Celebrate success and recognise when things aren’t going so well. Bad news spread like wildfire, and honestly addressing a system, decision, person or product, not working out, will cause less damage to morale. Further, provide honest feedback using your own strengths and weaknesses – whether it’s a preference for giving feedback in person, or an utter loathing of huge spreadsheets, as it engenders trust and inspires others to the same.
In conclusion, having the top job can be a lonely place; the more authentic your leadership style, the happier and more fulfilling your organisation will be from top to bottom.