Last week, I met famed leadership expert Gareth Jones (author of Why Should Anybody be Led by You?). Jones speaks about large companies and draws lessons from great leaders like Mandela and Branson. It got me thinking - how would his lessons apply to startups?
Startup CEOs have real leadership dilemmas. They have limited or no resources. Yet they ask others to follow a dream, which is at best hazy.
They also receive tons of leadership advice – much of it by well meaning friends, colleagues and investors. Much of it is flawed. But some of it is gold dust. Leadership is complicated – there is no simple playbook and it can be tempting to drink entrepreneur kool-aid.
For me, Jones had a key piece of advice that all startup CEO's should listen to - ''Be yourself with more skill". Only authentic real CEOs (flawed and all) compel others to follow. Great leaders really care. It is this deep commitment and conviction that helps them overcome adversity and personal risk. They truly understand themselves. It is this conviction and integrity that leads other's to follow - even when the path ahead is truly unclear.
These top CEOs work relentlessly to improve their skills at:
- managing relationships with tough love
- communicating in a way that excites their teams, investors and customers
- persuading others to do things they do not believe are possible
So how do you make your startup succeed. Well before you open another 'How to be a great CEO' book, why not try being yourself with "more skill"...