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Are You An Effective Startup Leader?

An often-convoluted notion that speaks to the intricacies of psychology, management, diction, politics, etc. While leading a company doesn’t exactly lend to the drama of a dictatorship, the determinant role of effective leadership in a company’s success cannot be overstated. While the subjective nature of this topic means that we may never agree on its definition, there are qualities that undeniably make certain individuals more fit for entrepreneurialism than others. Not unlike artists and other creative-types, taking something from zero requires a pinch of insanity and a dash of genius. At the same time, entrepreneurialism also asks for considerable pragmatism and the ability to identify and commit to solving a problem, and executing it with discipline.

LEADERSHIP 

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TO ME, STARTUP LEADERSHIP IS THE ABILITY TO DEMONSTRATE HOW THE INTANGIBLE CAN BE MADE A REALITY THROUGH EMPOWERING THE TEAM.

To build a company from the ground up is to materialise value from nothing, and an individual’s ability to conceptualise and translate this process to the team is no small feat organisationally - not to mention interpersonally demanding. It’s not just the strategy and spreadsheets that matter — it’s an attitude or spirit for innovation and value. I previously worked at a startup where the leadership struggled to find this x-factor in its early days. I enjoyed my time there, learned a great deal, and could not be happier about the company’s current success, but I never felt particularly connected to its vision despite high ambitions. Startup life had taken its toll on my supervisor, evident in her daily exasperation about performance and inability to maintain any measure of work-life balance. This lack of enthusiasm and energy made assignments feel tiresome and milestones, undeserved. Everyone on the team was stressed, and uninspired to provide feedback - constructive or otherwise. And with that, the company’s mission seemed abstract and far-fetched, not just far-off. A struggle to inspire energy within a team isn’t unique; startups, more so than a mature company, requires a leader and not a boss because it's not about maintaining a well-oiled machine. It's about drawing the blueprint and finding the parts to make that machine. In short, a boss delegates through a hierarchical structure to complete a day-to-day task, whereas a leader inspires individuals to do their best by communicating long-term goals. And to carry out such a framework, the employees must feel that they also assume some level of ownership of the company - the good and the bad. A leader’s persona establishes the company’s culture, in essence, a paragon for work ethic and zealousness to communicate the progress made and to be made. If even the leader fails to optimistically perceive a startup’s future — or assume a healthy approach to their own life — how can the rest of the team be expected to do the same? Do you agree or disagree? Do you think leadership has anything to do with personal attributes or is it something that can be learned? Be sure to share your thoughts!


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Be a part of the dialogue through Garage Academy — Garage Society’s knowledge-sharing platform. Garage Academy is not just about equipping entrepreneurs with the right skills to materialise their vision, but to discuss and share their own experiences with other like-minded individuals. Every member of the Garage Academy network has the opportunity to learn and teach, so the growth of the startup community here in Hong Kong can be a collaborative and sustainable one. Contact us at [email protected] if you interested in learning about a topic that’s not offered in Hong Kong, or sharing your expertise with the community! Join us today for your inaugural Garage Academy Event: “The Mystery of WeChat Official Accounts Explained” with Gene Soo from Startups Hong Kong.

WHEN: 17 June, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

WHERE: Garage Society, 19/F 299 Queen's Road Central, Sheung Wan

Buy Your Tickets Here (Enter Promo Code 'WECHATPRO' at Checkout for 30% Discount)

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