Becoming a Leader of Leaders: Event Recap
By Henna Mehta
We were delighted to welcome guests to our leadership development workshop late last month. With face-to-face events now in full swing, we were joined by more than 20 company founders and industry professionals that are championing innovation across the start-up industry.
This workshop was delivered by Robin Landsman, our Head of Leadership Development, in collaboration with three incredible guest speakers:
- Gerard Greene – An experienced CEO and entrepreneur responsible for founding Yotel, a leading hospitality provider that now operates over £1bn worth of hotels across the globe.
- Guillaume Chatain – A highly-skilled asset manager, founder, and CEO, currently leading the EMEA sales team at Coinbase. Guillaume has a proven track-record of successfully scaling start-ups.
- Diptesh Mishra – The current CTO of Kroo, an exciting FinTech organisation that recently raised £17m for its Series A. Diptesh is an experienced senior leader, with extensive knowledge of the start-up and technology industries.
This workshop focused on the transition from a company founder and individual contributor, to a leader of teams. In the start-up industry, scaling at pace is extremely common and founders will be faced with new challenges on a daily basis. Our guest speakers were challenged to give their insights on the internal and external challenges facing leaders, including advice and guidance on how to be a successful senior leader or CEO.
Guillaume: ‘Hire and fire without hesitation’
As a Founder, time is scarce, and the people around you are the most important asset you have to hand. That’s why it’s vitally important to have the right team around you from day one. Hire people that you feel have long-term potential in your company’s growth. It’s important to also keep in mind that looking good on paper can sometimes be deceiving. Cultural fit is just as important as industry experience. Don’t fall into the trap of hiring just based on someone’s track-record with big-name companies; carry out a deep dive into their background and personality to see if they’re a strong cultural fit. The sad reality of the start-up journey is that for some people it unfortunately wont work out. Sometimes a recruitment will turn out to not be a good fit, either culturally or delivery-wise. In these situations, you need to have strong management skills and know when to let someone go. There’s no use in extending this period longer than you need to.
Diptesh: ‘Everyone should have a voice, not everyone needs to be involved everywhere though’
From Pre-Seed to Exit, you need a solid company culture and a clear hierarchy that can carry you through. It’s important to have this identified early on. If not, this will only become a larger issue as you scale. Identify those in your team that can take on those senior roles and lead departments as they grow. If you can’t identify those staff members, don’t be afraid to recruit externally. In a start-up, not every long-term member of staff is going to be a strong future leader. Time at the company isn’t necessarily a determiner of leadership suitability.
It’s also important to set clear responsibilities early on, ensuring everyone knows who takes ownership of what task or project. When you’re starting out as a founder or co-founder, you’ll understandably want to have involvement in every aspect of the company. However, it’s important to learn to step back and trust your team to deliver. Everyone in the team should have a voice, but they don’t need to be involved in every aspect. We like to utilise platforms like Slack, so everyone is kept in the loop. That way, you can keep the wider team updated on progress, without having every member of the team sit in on every decision or meeting.
Gerard: ‘Smart money vs. easy cash – do your due-diligence’
When starting out, any offer of investment or financial support will sound promising. However, make sure you’re choosing your investors well and not jumping at the first offer. Remember, they’re going to have a long-term say in the direction of the company, so you need to be smart with who you want to work with. It can really come back and bite you if you are not being strategic – there is a difference between easy money and smart money. Also, do your due-diligence on how they manage their portfolio. Are they the kind of people you want to be working with? How do they manage exits or redundancies? How involved do they want to be? It’s important that you build a team of people that invest because they believe in you and your vision, not just those who are hoping for a quick win.
Find out more about our leadership development programme here