to be a better leader

4 Ways to be a better leader

1. Avoid the analysis paralysis trap

You are passionate about your business and have an ambitious plan in mind, but get caught up overanalyzing a bunch of data, trying to make a decision. Whether you are disrupting an existing industry or creating a new category altogether, you may struggle to find enough information to answer all of your questions so it’s easy to get stuck. More often then not, startups fail to take off for fear of not getting it right from the get-go.

“In the military, it doesn’t matter in which direction you choose to move when under a mortar attack, just so long as you move.”

2. Eliminate bottlenecks

Some of the things that make startups so exciting are the vibrant culture, the innovative minds and the fast pace. Lean structures push for increased efficiency — think a small group of people, each wearing multiple hats. Sounds familiar? As the company grows, so does the need for more processes, which leads to additional challenges when trying to keep agility at scale.

3. Be transparent

Great leaders are usually great communicators. They understand their message is much more powerful when they are authentic. “In good times and bad, honesty builds trust”, says Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and President at TalentSmart.

“Great leaders know that when they stay true to who they are, people gravitate to their message. They also know the opposite happens when leaders put on an act.”

When it comes to communication, don’t be afraid to overdo it. Sharing your goals once every quarter is awesome but it is equally important to check in every now and then, giving and receiving feedback every step of the way. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road can take you there, right?

4. Listen

Listen to your team. Encourage participation and contribution. Emma Chilvers, expert in leadership coaching, suggests “starting off on a positive note primes the brain to adopt a more open attitude towards the forthcoming discussion — and it gets all of the voices in the room ready to contribute at the same time.” Be open to what they have to say and let them finish their thoughts without interruption. Nancy Kline, founder and president of Time To Think, believes everybody should have equal chance to speak and points out that people spend most of their time in a meeting focusing on what they are going to say or defending their ideas from criticism, instead of listening to one another.

“Most startups try to build the wedding cake (the big final product) on their first iteration instead of starting small with a cupcake (simplest version that solves a single problem), then turning it into a cake (based on customer feedback) and then finally into a wedding cake (again, based on customer feedback).”

Listen to the market. Identify trends, monitor shifts, be aware of potential threats and get a head start on upcoming opportunities. But, once again, don’t just keep that information to yourself. Make sure you are effectively sharing strategic insights with your team.

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