Important leadership skills Startup founders need to know

With so many startup founders taking the plunge , have you noticed that many of them are twentysomethings? While this is no crime, founders have one flaw usually attributed to man management experience, which needs to be addressed at the start of the business journey. How many startup founders can definitely attest to understanding how to effectively manage employees?. Despite the PR hype and bravado, a common misconception is that business owners know instinctively know how to manage people, and most new to the leadership game make many mistakes that can be avoided with a little prior knowledge and preparation.


Victor Lipman writing in Forbes suggests that most business owners unfortunately learn the hard way as to the best methods of managing people and offers five important things founders need to know before they take on enthusiastic staff:

  1. Set a tone of authority but don’t come on too strong 
  2. You can’t be everyone’s friend –
  3. Clear employee objectives can be your best friend 
  4. Create an environment of open communication, where speaking up is OK
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, which will probably be often

All of these are great points. Another key leadership trait that is often overlooked, is that of reflection. I think strong reflection is a key prerequisite to one’s professional development. Of all the successful leadership traits one needs to acquire, it is that of reflection that takes the most time and a conscious effort. Many start-ups sometimes find themselves having to pivot, this can only be achieved once the management team have undergone a period of deliberate reflection.  Angela Maiers writing in a post titled ‘Reflection: An Essential Leadership Practice’ on suggest studying the following equation:

Information + Action = Knowledge: Knowledge is the result of information and action. Yet, knowledge of actions taken is still not wisdom. It is in the reflective process that we are able to see if the knowledge used and actions taken have produced something of value and worth.

Thus:  Knowledge + Experience + Reflection = Wisdom

Wisdom born of reflection allows us to grow, develop, change, inspire, produce, attract, influence, contribute and teach. I believe that if we can teach ourselves to make reflection an integral part of living and learning, we have done something that makes knowledge deep and lasting.

The infographic below highlights which steps should emerging leaders emulate in oder to become strong and successful leaders. It also highlights which habits and characteristics are the most important to cultivate.

Infographic by Michigan State University, earn your Strategic Leadership & Management Certificate.