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How to Build the Right Team for your Startup

How to Build the Right Team for your Startup

As a new company your team matters- more than you might think. In a new venture, building a team should be a priority.

Team building is critical for several reasons. However, there are two that stand out. The first is scalability, meaning that until you build a solid team you will be forced to wear all of the hats. While this is something that almost all entrepreneurs do at some point, it’s not sustainable. At a certain point of juggling tasks yourself, the more you do the less efficient you become which is no way to build a business.

The second reason that you shouldn’t put off building a team for your startup is that your first team sets the example for everyone who comes afterward. If your initial team consists of serious go-getters, then your company will continue to attract ambitious people. On the other hand, when you go it alone you can be like a directionless leaf blowing in the wind, not knowing what to expect. If an ambitious team leads to more ambitious people coming onboard, what type of folks will an unsettled team be able to recruit?

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Building a successful startup is all about having the right team that can take on opportunities when they arise. If you can manage to get your team right, you have already won half the battle. As an entrepreneur these are lessons that I’ve had to learn the hard way, but you don’t have to repeat my mistakes. Here are several crucial factors and proven strategies for building a team.

Your Company Is Only as Good as your Team.

Always remember this when hiring new members of your team. They are not just individuals working in your business. They are the business. Seek individuals from diverse backgrounds so that you are well-equipped to successfully handle every aspect of business without having to look anywhere else.

Here are tips for choosing the right team members for your startup:

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  • Be frank about your goals and expectations from the business.
  • Offer them equity with a lock-in period apart from salary.
  • Get your initial funding right to stay afloat for a few quarters.
  • Do not hesitate to choose people who have failed earlier.
  • Always lead from the front to set an example to your team.
  • Have fun with your team once in a while.
  • Be ready to let go of ideas that do not work.

Be Honest with your Team.

Building a team is not just about hiring few people to work in your company. You should look for a common connection when staffing your startup to strike the right chord within your organization.

Never hide anything from your team. Be open with them. Even if you are not sure about certain aspects of your business, make sure to convey the message to your team; this will ensure that they can trust you completely if they agree with your vision. If they’re unsure about your goals, it is better that they back out in the initial stages rather than making an exit in one of the later stages. Be clear about what you expect from them and from the business in future.

Offer Equity with Salary.

This is the standard practice offered by many successful companies all over the world. Do not hesitate to offer some equity to your initial core team. It will motivate them to put in those extra hours that are so critical to the success of any startup. However, make sure that the equity comes with a lock-in period so that you don’t lose out should teammates leave in the early stages. Keep salaries as low as possible in the starting period as it will help you manage without external funding.

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Get your Funding Right.

Whether you plan to build a product-oriented or service-oriented company, you need resources for marketing and development. Any venture capital company prefers to have a team that can run on its own- that doesn’t have to over-rely on external resources. You must always ensure that you have enough funds to run the business for a few quarters without any hiccups. Even though external financing may come at a later stage, you should not depend on it in the initial stages of your startup. There are chances that it can be delayed due to many reasons and this should not affect your team in any way. Make sure you have enough money to pay bills and salaries on time.

Don’t Fear Failure.

Are you afraid of hiring people who have failed before? You should be happy to hire such people because running a startup is like walking on thorns, and such people will have valuable experience to handle failure. They do not immediately lose motivation, and this will be a big advantage when you are faced with some challenge.

Lead your Team.

You must always lead from the front and set a good example for your team members. If there is something that you do not want to do yourself and you tell someone else to do it, it will not be taken positively. Lead your team in every aspect. If you experience setbacks, be ready to take responsibility and motivate your team to get back to work and accomplish the tasks at hand.

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Don’t Forget to Have Fun.

While running a startup comes with its own responsibilities, it should not stop you from having fun with your team. Do not let the burden of work overshadow hobbies and other activities. Also, motivate your team to enjoy their personal lives. It will help you to have employees with a relaxed frame of mind.

Few things are as crucial to an entrepreneur’s success as building the right team. There are many rewards for bringing the right people into your organization. Chief among them is creating a culture around which you can build the business, while creating a system that allows the business to run properly even without your direct input.

Featured photo credit: Pexels.com via pexels.com

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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