Unless you plan to become an individual proprietor, as founder, one of the hats that you shall wear is that of a leader, whether you’re leading a team of three or a team of three hundred. This is a hat that you cannot avoid wearing during the initial years if your goal is to succeed in your new venture. How much thought have you given to this role? Do you know your strengths and weaknesses as a leader?
I’ve worked with first-time and serial founders, and have noted that some individuals wore the leadership hat with ease while others balked at it. Some didn’t even give it any thought. The good news is that a great leader is not born; a great leader is someone who works hard to improve his or her leadership skills.
In my recent efforts to help a CEO-CTO co-founder with his leadership skills, I had to tap into my own experience as well as insights from other leaders. I recently reread a good book on leadership, in which the author identified the following qualities of a true leader. I’ll share his short list here. This is a good start for any founders looking to become a better leader.
A true leader:
- does the necessary homework.
- demonstrates courage.
- is persistent; doesn’t give up when faced with challenges; is relentless in pursuit of a goal.
- fully understands both the mission and the goal.
- has integrity; is ethical.
- is decisive.
- does not fail to act in the absence of either instructions for an unexpected crisis or the desired data on which to base decisions.
- is a good listener and an effective communicator.
- does not depend on the approval of others to build self-esteem.
- understands that unity leads to success and division leads to failure.
- leads “from the front.”
- inspires others and engages them using his or her passion and authentic behavior.
- never asks others to take risks that he or she would not take.
- does not get rattled in a crisis.
- seeks opportunities to advance the mission.
- knows how to identify those who are sincere in interpersonal relations.
- is trustworthy and learns quickly whom to trust.
- is dependable, adhering to a company’s or a movement’s mission without compromising principles for personal enrichment or benefit.
- becomes a loyal follower and supporter of other leaders once they are identified.
- recognizes that leadership is not an ego trip.
Source: On Leadership – Essential Principles for Success. Donald J. Palmisano. Skyhorse Publishing, 2008.
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