Have you ever been part of a start-up? Do you know people who have? Recently, I have had the opportunity to work with a group that is in this phase of their development as an organization. There are a lot of the attributes I see in them I want to borrow for my team.
What can we learn from the pioneers who are willing to start something new? Here are a few observations I believe are transferable - even if you are not in start-up mode.
[tweet_box design="default"]Great leaders know that vision leaks and they constantly replenish it in word and deed.[/tweet_box]
The vision is white-hot. In the early phases of a company the founder or senior leader has already seen the preferred future he or she is trying to create. It seems as though they invest disproportionate time and energy helping others see it too. These leaders know vision leaks and they constantly replenish it in word and deed.
Collaboration is not a slogan. The start-up I visited last week reminded me of this again. When the work really matters – and survival is not guaranteed, people WANT to work together. The space we saw had very few walls. People sat with the people they needed to work with. This open space approach fuels creativity, increases efficiency and reduces the signal loss associated with traditional corporate communication methods.
Buzz is contagious. Where’s the buzz? Is there any excitement in your work environment? Can outsiders feel it? Recently, I was talking with a consultant who asked me these questions about our workspace. If you don't understand the question, you are not experiencing it. The good news: you can create it. When you do, it will stimulate more energy and excitement. Start-ups shouldn’t be the only ones who enjoy this benefit.
"New" brings energy. I’m convinced part of the energy, excitement, passion and engagement of a start-up comes from doing something new. Even better if it is something no one has ever done before. How does this apply to you and your team? As you begin next year’s planning process, why not challenge your team to do something new and different? What new strategy or tactic have you always wanted to try? Do it!
Leadership is hands-on. There may be successful start-ups in which senior leadership is disengaged, but I doubt it. In my limited experience, the leadern in these organizations are involved on a daily basis. He or she doesn’t get their data from a spreadsheet; they get it from talking to customers and working with the teams closet to the work. Start-up or not, I want to be an engaged leader.
The work ethic is palpable. In order to prepare a proposal for our recent meeting, the team worked around the clock. Now, I want work-life balance as much as the next guy; but I also want a team so sold on the work, they are willing to do what it takes to get the job done. If you find yourself needing an all-nighter every week, you’re not doing it right. If your people aren’t willing to pull one from time to time, you’re not doing it right either.
There is focus. One of the big issues many teams and organizations suffer from is scope creep, or product line creep, or service offerings creep. Start-ups are not immune, but the best ones fight it – and win. Focus may be the defining characteristic of successful organizations, young and old. Yes, there are always outliers who can do many things well. However, my money is on focused teams and organizations.
I can learn a lot from those who are leading successful start-ups. How about you?[GLS_Shield]
What can you do to breathe some of the energy of a start-up into your team/organization?