Traits of an effective leader
What should be sporadically added to each list How to prioritize and act upon list items Below are several examples of lists that I have built over the past few years at Brainscape. I’ve divided them into two types: People Lists and To-do Lists. If you don’t have these lists going already, get started now. Existing investors’ and advisers’ skill sets It is important to maintain a list of your existing investors’ skill sets to help you remember whom to ask for particular advice or favors (Example: If one of your investors used to work in media, you can ask them for PR help.). Keeping your investors engaged, and remembering to catch up with them individually from time to time is your secret weapon to multiplying your army of evangelists.
investors Over the course of running your business, you will likely hear about many potential angel investors or venture capitalists who would be perfect candidates for your company. These people should be added to a potential investors list as soon as you hear about them! Even if you are not currently fundraising (or if you are “too early” for particular later-stage investors), keeping a log of your conversations with potential investors will make your life much easier once you are ready for your next fundraising blitz. Existing partners If your business has any content or distribution partners, it is important to maintain great communication with them. A simple spreadsheet -- listing all your partners, the nature of your partnership, the key champions within the partner company and any additional notes about the relationship -- can help you remember when to send them exclusive company updates, holiday cards or any other helpful correspondence. Potential partners Are there companies you’d like to partner with in the future? Did someone just mention a great potential future partner during a meeting? This is a job for the potential partners list. Whether you’re logging ideas for dream introductions, or just keeping track of conversations you’ve already had, a central list of potential partners can keep all your corporate development activities organized. WHAT makes a good leader? Which personality traits do the best trailblazers share? Every organization has its own benchmarks for determining who would make the best head of its teams, but are those qualities really all that different?
Research in the field suggests that, on a broad level, employees and employers are looking for similar characteristics in their leaders -- no matter what business they’re in. Here are four personality traits that people want in a boss.
Results form a November 2014 Pew Research Center Survey showed that 84 percent of the 1,835 respondents considered honesty the most essential personality trait for any leader. Honest leaders inspire not just through words but through actions.
They’re the kind of leaders who build their teams from the ground up. They understand that effective leadership is built on trust, and that honesty in leadership generates a stronger team dynamic. Honest interactions with employees build the kind of Just be sure you’re targeting the right person within the potential partner organization.
acquirers Companies are almost never acquired as the result of a single discussion. Most successful acquisitions are actually the result of ongoing conversations between the startup and the acquirer. Maintaining a list of your potential acquirers, getting introduced to the right people in their organizations and logging your conversation notes are important activities to prepare your company for an eventual exit.
Note that many of your current or potential partners could also be potential future acquirers of your business, so you may want to condense these two lists into a single corporate development spreadsheet. 6. Journalists you know You never know when your company may do something that is “story worthy.” Keeping an updated list of all your journalist buddies can help you quickly get the word out when the time is right. Just be sure to stay in touch with them (and even do occasional favors for them) so that they pay attention to your next email! Journalists you want to know There may be a handful of influential journalists who regularly write about your industry. Keep a list of them! I’ve found Twitter lists to be a particularly helpful tool for this. If you regularly comment on their posts, retweet them and favorite them, they’ll eventually notice and engage you in a conversation about what you do. CEO friends Your fellow entrepreneurial buddies can be among your most important assets. They can help with confidential advice, they can serve as potential partners on key initiatives, they can attend your startup’s parties and they can introduce you to your target investors when you’re ready for the intros. I tend to just use a Gmail contacts list for this. Awesome talent you know Did you just meet an amazing engineer who you’ll eventually want to hire as an Android relationships that make success in the workplace attainable for the entire team -- not just the boss.
In the world of personality evaluation, openness is one of the Big Five dimensions of personality that psychologists use to evaluate individuals. It refers to how open an individual is to new experiences and how imaginative and insightful an individual can be.
In 2014, strength-based leadership development experts Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman performed an analysis of the 33 top leaders at a major telecommunications organization and established 10 personality traits that made those leaders effective. Some of their findings included creating a culture that magnifies upward communication (being open to ideas from all sources); setting stretch goals (keeping an open mind to find dynamic ways to achieve organizational goals); and emphasizing speed (defined as encouraging ideas to be tested first and discussed -- and picked apart -- later). developer (once you raise some money)? Or perhaps an amazing future vice president of sales who loves your company and wants to stay in touch? Don’t lose touch with these people. Keep them in a separate contact list. You never know if you may need them -- or if you may want to refer them to opportunities at your friends’ companies. “People to update” Sometimes you just want to blast a whole bunch of “relevant” contacts with an important update about your company (particularly while building hype for PR or fundraising blitz). Having an up-to-date master list of these people -- which might include investors, entrepreneurial friends, journalists, friends and even your family -- will make this update process much easier.
I maintain my own version of this list by simply tagging all my relevant Gmail contacts with a label called “General Updates.”
The second type of lists that startup founders should maintain is to-do lists. Startup todo lists come in many flavors:
term CEO tasks Things you need to do in the next few days. I personally use Gmail’s built-in Tasks feature for this, and I have an iphone app that allows me to access this list on the go. Long-term CEO projects Things you need to do “eventually.” I use a Trello board for this. I generally sit with my executive team each month to re-prioritize this list and to make sure I’m working on the right things. 3. Short-term product tasks Things your product team is currently working on. This helps you remember what’s important before you bother them with a trivial new idea. If it’s not an emergency, add it to the product backlog. Product backlog Features that you hope to “eventually” build. At Brainscape, we generally don’t have a detailed long-term road map, since we prefer to re-assess the product backlog every few weeks and determine which items should be added to the short-term tasks. While the study only focused on 33 leaders from one organization, Zenger and Folkman noted their results were consistent with their analysis of leaders from hundreds of organizations across a wide range of industries.
Good leaders encourage a culture where every team member’s ideas are heard and valued.
They’re open and imaginative -- and they encourage those traits in their employees.
Leaders make decisions.
Without fail, leaders are regularly called on to make choices that impact both the organization and the people they lead. People want to follow a person who weighs all the options and, as Zenger and Folkman discovered in their research,
“Display fearless loyalty to doing what’s right for the organization.” In other words, good leaders make important decisions based on what’s best for the organization -- and they make them confidently.