There’s no place where strong leadership is needed more than in a hectic startup environment where the odds are stacked against you, and “superhuman” efforts to gain and maintain traction are required daily, not quarterly. But what is the difference between being a boss and being a leader?
Bosses stick to a preordained script and defined roles, connoting little else but hierarchal authority and approaching their contributions in the context of their own careers—their compensation, personal goals, and their place on the totem pole. Leaders, especially the transformational ones, inspire positive change in others. They earn trust, create cohesion, and raise morale. Bosses tell people what to do, while leaders inspire people to do their best.
When getting a company off the ground, especially in the startup world, there is no room for bosses, only leaders. Here are 5 qualities that emerging leaders should possess:
A visionary can set the path for the company while a solid boss can execute it, but it takes a true leader to do both. A true leader should exemplify the ability to chart the course and get everyone pointed in the right direction. There’s too much ground to cover in a startup environment for senior employees to be focused solely on either long-term strategy or day-to-day tasks. Instead, it’s vital to create a culture in which people feel a sense of ownership and efficacy in growing the company.
Passion is defined as, “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.” Passion drives true leaders to succeed. Working a nine-to-five is unheard of for the best business leaders, especially in the startup world/entrepreneurial environment. Even after leaders leave the office, their minds are churning for new ways to adapt and innovate, which makes them exude an excitement for their company that’s palpable to every employee.
3. A Powerful — and Appreciative — Magnet for Talent.
People choose leaders, whereas bosses are foisted upon them. If a boss can’t build out their own team—recruiting the best members, he cannot be a company leader. Leaders motivate their team and work on building each member to the highest level of success, because they understand someday these members will need to be in a position to lead. Great leaders understand they could have never made it this far alone.
4. Understanding Resources
A boss takes a given set of resources and parcels them out as efficiently as possible. They organize an army. Given the same set of resources, a leader leverages them. They amass an army. A good leader has an understanding of how to generate resources, not just allocate them. In a startup environment, the primary challenge is not typically divvying up resources, but hiring the right people to develop the best strategies and most efficient processes who leverage those resources. Leaders recognize the difference and focus on not just the next step, but 10 steps down the road, building a company for the long haul and not just checking items off a daily to-do list.
5. 360-Degree Thirst for Knowledge.
Some have said good leaders must be good learners, and good learners must be good listeners. It’s a motto that really resonates with me. Leaders must keep their eyes and ears open to feedback from their staff, clients, and industry.
Rochelle Marapao is the co-Founder and Managing Director of Linear Growth Consulting, LLC (LGC) with almost two decades of experience in technology startups and helping to build them from the ground up. LGC is composed of extremely high-qualified, experienced, industry-proven, high-tech executives, and personnel with hundreds of man-years of successful results in building, maintaining, and growing successful businesses. We are your Growth and Turnaround Specialists. Find out how LGC can help your business compete in today’s markets by speaking with our key executives.