Leadership is a skill demanded everywhere, especially in the Industrial revolution 4.0. Hence today we must become leaders in one aspect of life or another. However, there are specific qualities needed to launch a start-up that requires a distinct set of leadership skills which may be very different from leading a project within your company or your local baking or futsal team. The plethora of new opportunities in this ‘new normal’ and the quick death of many traditional jobs and employers, even permanently, makes 2021 the year when understanding the leadership needed to launch a start-up crucial. Not just to ride the wave of the current uncertainty but also to create jobs for the many who have lost out. So, what are the ways you can trade up your leadership skills in 2021? Educationist and social entrepreneur Dr Pauldy Otermans gives 5 pointers.
It’s about the big picture
Today more than any time in recent history, a successful company is built on the problems it is trying to solve. This is perhaps what has made London the ‘impact’ investment capital of the world during the pandemic and almost all new global changes are being driven through entrepreneurship. Think recent changes to the climate, communication, human population, and energy and you will know what I am writing about. As a leader, try and solve a big problem and your start-up will get the attention that it needs to grow and succeed.
Fluidity is key
As a start-up leader, you have the onus of deciding when to shift direction and change policies to help your company thrive and sometimes to even survive. This can be incredibly difficult as you are also expected to hold the direction of the company and not let it sway. Not being nimble however may make you too rigid and this may cause your start-up to fail. Remember it is about the end result and not the slight changes in the path you need to make to reach there. If there is something that the year of the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is that the flexible and fluid will survive, and the inflexible will succumb.
Focus is paramount
The world today is more distracting than it has ever been. It is no longer about logging into social media or news websites that can distract us. Just one glance on your phone screen will give you multiple avenues to get distracted. As a start-up leader, you need to keep focus because if not you, then no one will lead, grow, and mature your start-up. It is crucial to also understand that having focus does not mean being rigid, as mentioned above, but to keep your sight constantly on the finishing line you desire to cross no matter how many times you pivot and change direction on your way there. It is about keeping the end in mind. Always!
Use the global community
The pandemic perhaps unlike anything previously, apart from the exponential rise of the internet in the late nineties, has encouraged collaboration and communication on a truly global scale. This is probably the biggest opportunity that a start-up founder can utilise today. As a leader take advantage of this to create global partnerships by having 5 instead of 2 major meetings a day using the time saved by working from home and meeting digitally and explore ‘open-source’ and ‘no-code’ solutions that have improved accessibility to software solutions like never before.
Finally, as the leader, understand and appreciate that you cannot always be right. Having this humility will assure that your team will back you even when you get a decision wrong and propel towards that final goal – your start-up’s success.