5 Leadership Skills Startup Leaders Must Develop

Published on September 13, 2022

Leadership requires mastery.

Every area of society needs great leadership, and the essence of this is exemplified in businesses, politics, and religion as well. However, not everyone can take up leadership roles because it can be quite tough. 

Leadership is the ability of a person to impact, coordinate, and lead other people or members of an association. As a leader, your leadership character will be tested in different situations. And surely, you must diligently play your role.

In the entrepreneurial world, individuals with astounding leadership qualities usually rise to the zenith of their field, while others struggle with their startup firms. You need qualities like excellent communication, self-confidence, perseverance, and efficient management skills to help you navigate the leadership terrain. 

Well, what happens when the tides change and challenging times begin to set in?

Explore New Opportunities 

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

Pressure creates diamonds

Challenging times can make it seem like all hope is lost. But then, they can bring forth fruits as well. There’s this saying— when one door closes, another one opens. It only takes an optimistic mind to see this. 

Robin Rivera— CEO of Robin Rivera Global, is a practitioner who makes use of natural elements and medicines to support the acceleration of consciousness in leaders so they can lead with greater clarity, conviction, and connection to the earth. 

Robin once suffered from various emotional and developmental trauma. All kinds of mental, emotional, and spiritual suffering. But she came in contact with a shamanic depth hypnosis practitioner who helped her heal, and this spurred her into creating her own business.

In the startup world, most startups don’t get a jolly ride to success because they are often faced with tough and stringent policies by industry top guns and the government. So as a startup lead, success doesn’t only depend on innovative ideas, a strong business structure, and a competent team. You also need to take advantage of every opportunity to grow. In the long run, this will help determine if your startup will sink or swim.

Go Back to the Drawing Board

Photo credit: Robyn Rivera, with permission.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

When faced with demanding situations, a leader should know when to go back to the drawing board and re-strategize with the team. With around 37% of startups failing due to lack of capital and profitability, it is pertinent to know when to go back to the drawing board and draw up another plan to make things work.

Even when the best well-intentioned plans don’t work out as you expect, it’s necessary to debrief and regroup. This would require you to go back to the drawing board. This process is a critical one for businesses— because when the best-laid plans don’t work out as you expect, you’ve got to learn from the experience and go on to create new plans and strategies. This is based on the parts that worked while modifying the parts that didn’t work. 

Don’t Mask Up your Vulnerability

Without showing vulnerability as a leader, no one will follow.

Contrary to popular ideology, being vulnerable doesn’t mean that you have to expose your deepest secrets. It means being 100% real, bringing your guard down, and not being pretentious.

For example, a leader who expresses vulnerability doesn’t feel compelled to be the first to answer or come up with an idea. This vulnerability enables you to see through the eyes of the people you lead. By doing so, you make them feel more involved and invested. Being vulnerable doesn’t make you weak, it allows you to show your authentic self.

Leaders need to work on their vulnerability, and this can be done by being an active listener, hearing other people’s opinions, and also being able to admit fault at times. Vulnerability is a powerful tool, and emotionally intelligent leaders recognize this.

Do not Assume

Leaders don’t assume, they make their findings. There are times when tough situations can get the better of you as a leader, and this may cause you to base your judgments on pure assumptions rather than facts. 

This threatens the confidence of the team. So instead, engage your employees by asking questions. Do this with calmness and open-mindedness. It gives you ample time to carefully discover the problem, analyze it, and seek a long-lasting solution. Also, this promotes cordial relationships between team members.

Remain Optimistic

Photo credit: Pexels, with permission.

You’re either an optimist or a pessimist. Either you think and act from an abundant point of view, or you act from a scarcity point of view. Great leaders often have to remain optimistic even in the most difficult situations. 

When there’s a problem, it’s required that you brainstorm and provide solutions, instead of nagging about what went wrong. You’ve got to find silver linings even in the most turbulent of storms.

You can’t afford to leave your team members in the dark. When this happens, you leave your team members in disarray with wide guesses.  Though reality might be scary, there are ways to convey this without raising fears or being pessimistic about it.

As things unfold, it’s advisable to keep your team updated, so they can be dedicated to the job or task at hand. By doing so, you get to lead them to success rather than feeding their fears. 

Final Thoughts on Leadership

Enacting the above will help you navigate through challenging times because people want to see their leaders manage situations and profer solutions. This gives them some hope to hold on to. Overall, in challenging times, a leader has to strike a balance between being human and being strict.


CEO and Founder of InStudio Ventures, Serial Entrepreneur and InvestorDanny Cortenraede is a global serial entrepreneur, investor, founder and Managing Partner of InStudio Ventures. He is selected as one of the top innovators in North America in 2022 by Sportstech X. He earned his Executive MBA from Harvard Business School.Cortenraede is a co-star, judge of the hottest new business reality streaming TV series Unicorn Hunters.

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