“The challenge of a leader is looking around the corner, and making the change before it’s too late to make the change.”Indra Nooyi, Chairman and Ex-CEO of PepsiCo
Are entrepreneurship and leadership the same? Do all leaders make entrepreneurs? There are traits that overlap between the two while still being very distinct.
The common denominator remains the influence one has on the team and business, amongst other things. While a leader isn’t necessarily an entrepreneur, leadership skills are almost a requirement in the realm of entrepreneurship. What constitutes each of these roles is layered and covers a broad range of verticals.
However, the overlap of leadership is inevitable to foster growth. Let’s look at some steps that help navigate this journey.
Expanding from a One-Person Team
Entrepreneurs are inherently self-driven and autonomous, but growth needs a good mix of soft skills that determines success. Let’s explore what this means.
In days of yore, starting a company implied a team from the get-go. The digitization of the landscape brought about change. Many startups today are one-man armies – all you need is an idea and the resourcefulness to execute it.
While starting a business on your own is now possible, in terms of scaling, incrementally building a team is crucial. Recognizing which roles are key for your startup to thrive and grow depends on the nature of business.
We understand that it can be daunting to grow out of a one-person team, so let’s look at effective ways to navigate through that.
- Plan Ahead for the Team You Need:
Having a plan in place for adding team members before you may expect to be ready for them can be helpful. You might need someone sooner than you think, so don’t hesitate to hire someone when the time is right.
- Looking Beyond The CV:
It is a good idea for the candidate to have baseline experience in the role you’re looking to fill however it cannot be the decision-making factor. Assess how they fit in the idea of your startup, Look for those who have the passion it takes to work towards the common goal. It makes the journey smoother for everyone involved. Remember, will over skill!
If you are interested, our article: Supporting Your Business Growth: 3 Considerations for Expanding Your Team may have some additional tips to support you on this step.
- Fill The Gaps:
Hire someone with complementing expertise and knowledge over overlapping – and one that fills the gap in both soft and hard skills alike. With tighter budgets and smaller teams, optimizing talent in the team is a smart strategy.
Consider adding e-learning courses to your routine to help you hone your leadership skills. Here’s a short Linkedin Learning Course you can try taking to get you started.
Adapting Your Leadership Style
There are many leadership styles, recognizing yours and seeing how to best utilize and mould it is an important part of being a well-rounded leader. Leading smaller teams means you need to wear more than one hat and tweak your style. A few tips that help you establish this:
- Understand Your Baseline: As we discussed, understanding where you fall in the spectrum is imperative to growing as a leader. Take a leadership personality assessment if you haven’t already.
- Adaptability: In order to bring out the best in people, tailor and adapt your leadership style to them specifically. Getting to know your team is just as important as getting to know yourself in this context.
- Diversity: As you work with your team, make observations on the styles that might fit some but not others. Respecting and managing the team’s diversity yields optimum results.
- Operate With A Global Mindset: Culture plays a huge role in shaping mindsets and working styles. It is more common to be working with diverse cultures, so that should always be a factor you consider.
- Leading Virtual Teams: With the paradigm shift towards working virtually, leadership has also changed. Ensuring goals are met and the team is motivated while leading virtual teams is another skill to train.
Common Pitfalls Leaders Encounter
As businesses grow in terms of revenue or team, new leaders encounter pitfalls that can be common but can also be avoided. Having an awareness of them before they arise can help you navigate them better.
Collaborating is a team effort that requires time and attention. Bringing another person onboard and offloading work might not happen naturally. Trusting the unique set of values that your team brings to the table and believing in the value of collaborating is a perspective that helps ease the process.
Seeking and processing feedback in a way that works well with everyone involved is another area new leaders find hard to grapple with. In time, you will be able to reinforce a stronger working model and feedback is a key element to achieving this.
Here is a resource we recommend for ways of providing constructive feedback as a leader you may find helpful.
The Doing-It-All Approach:
Women are inherently more likely to be multi-taskers and want to have a hand in all aspects of a project. However, this can be a double-edged sword that resists asking for help when needed, which leads to burning out, restricting growth, or missing out on an easier solution. Identifying the need to ask for help, whether it is by hiring someone, bringing on a consultant, or borrowing a second opinion is a great way to avoid the pitfalls of not doing so.
The gratification lies in turning these challenges into opportunities. While it might be the hardest to turn things around, all these steps lay a strong foundation as you grow into much bigger teams and larger revenues.
Working towards improving your leadership skills has an overall impact on not just the way you operate as a team, but also the trajectory of your company.
The first hire is a pivotal step towards the growth of your business. Take the time to understand what your business needs and ensure your values, passion, and skills align and also complement each other. Another key element to expanding is understanding your leadership style and working on adapting it to fit your team and the overall growth of the company.
Lastly, being aware of the most common pitfalls new entrepreneurs face and how to avoid them. But also, remember that challenges and pitfalls are inevitable, and can turn into opportunities for improvement and growth.
We hope you find this article helpful as you develop yourself as a leader. What has been your biggest learning in navigating leadership? We would love to hear from you.