It is not all about startup capital or amazing pitch decks when it comes to the venture world. Every entrepreneur should take the time to understand the ways to become a better leader.
If you want to become an entrepreneur, startup founder, or improve the business you already have, you’ll want to become a better leader. If you want to build a highly successful startup that goes big and fast, you’ll need to become a better leader.
There are lots of myths about leadership. Fortunately, there are many ways to forge yourself and grow into a better leader as well.
Here are some of those that you can begin applying right away.
Decide What Kind Of Leader You Want To Be
The first foundational step is to decide what kind of leader you want to become.
There have been many types of leaders throughout history. There have been many styles of leadership. Some have worked well during certain periods. Some may be a better fit for the current environment, your personality, and values and objectives than others.
Know what you want to accomplish. Define what traits, characteristics and outcomes mean being better, or being a great leader mean for you.
Then use that to help you navigate through these tools to evolve into that.
Understand The Importance Of Becoming A Better Leader
Current leaders have done a phenomenal job of creating an unprecedentedly chaotic and distracting environment. That is only compounded many types for entrepreneurs and business owners. So, the next step is to appreciate the critical importance of this, and to prioritize it. Otherwise you will certainly be lost in the weeds, distracted to no end, and buried in putting out small fires.
If you are still aspiring to become a startup founder, then you must step up to becoming a leader. Choose yourself. Take action.
If you are already the founder of a business, all the progress you’ve made so far, all of the gains, and the future rely on continually growing as a leader. It’s once you think you know it all, have the midas touch, and think you can just lay back on your laurels that things will fall apart. There are infinite examples of this throughout history. It doesn’t matter how big the success was last month, slacking in this respect will be your demise.
This is why great leaders with longevity continue to invest in this aspect of their careers. That applies whether they are already billionaires on Forbes’ lists, or are 80 year old industry titans.
Your continued role at your startup depends on it. If you don’t keep up your growth as a leader, and stay ahead of the fast pace you expect your venture to grow at, it will soon outgrow you. As a startup founder you really need to become a whole new person, and achieve a new level of professional leadership every six to 12 months. Your company will certainly need to transform and be a whole new company then. If you still want to be at the helm, and not have to deal with a mutiny, then you need to stay ahead in your leadership skills.
Your team, customers, investors and the mission is counting on this. Your ability to hold your own with VCs, vendors, and potential acquirers and competitors relies on it.
So, how do you do it? How would you learn the ways to become a better leader?
Set Big Goals
If you haven’t yet, start by setting huge goals. Goals, objectives and milestones to achieve that will force you to be a better leader.
That may be raising another $10M in funding, recruiting a team of highly respected executives, hitting $100M in revenues, surpassing 50% market share, or selling your company for $150M plus.
With clarity on where you are going, you will better understand who you need to be, and how you’ll need to lead to get there.
Read More Books
Great leaders read a lot. Often for hours each day. Often for hours each day, before they start any work.
It sounds easy, but is often one of the most foundational steps that many entrepreneurs in a rush ignore and try to skip over. Yet, there clearly seems to be a direct link between the level of success leaders have and how much they read.
There are countless books to pick from. You can read inspiring historical biographies. Read the stories of other successful current CEOs, investors and powerful leaders. Read how to books on fundraising, company culture, marketing and sales, or how to sell your company. Or even pick up some fiction to spark your creative brain and ability to think outside of the box.
Listen To More Podcasts
The old commute may now be extinct, but there are plenty of opportunities to listen to podcasts. On your way to vacation, in the gym, at lunch, during your morning power hour, or before going to bed, on the weekends, and when you’ve watched everything worth watching on Netflix.
Podcasts are a powerful way to supplement reading books. They tend to be relevant and current. Can be more dynamic. And for some who are more auditory may be one of the best ways to digest information and get it to stick. They are really easy to take with you everywhere too.
There are lots of groups that you can join to help you grow as a leader too. These can be inner circle leadership and business groups, industry trade associations, philanthropic groups, chambers of commerce and more. There can be business networking groups, Meetups, and online accountability groups as well.
If you can’t find a group to join, then you can also create a wide variety of them yourself, and curate the group you want to surround yourself with.
Advisors are critical for many reasons as a startup founder. They can have many different benefits. Not only can they give you the benefit of their immense experience, enabling you to leverage their many years of growth and insight, but they can instantly and dramatically expand your network and connections too. In many cases they can lend great credibility to your company and you personally as a leader as well. Tap into their expertise to learn more about the ways to become a better leader.
Some people seem to thrive even more with a more formal and structured system of learning. There are plenty of leadership programs out there you can apply for. Other business and entrepreneurship programs and schools will open up many doors to hear directly from and be advised by leaders in different areas that apply most to your aspirations.
While some crave the confidence they foresee coming from a degree or years in a top ranked school, others feel the best benefits come from the expansion of their network attending a great college gives them. THis is where many find their cofounders, early investors, mentors, and even customers.