10 characteristics of a great startup leader

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Today’s startup workplaces demand great leaders who inspire enthusiasm, loyalty and trust in their employees. Particularly in a young business, it’s important to be able to motivate your team to be flexible and move fast to meet customer needs. Here Bayt.com offers up ten characteristics of a successful startup leader:

1. Have a clear vision.

To have a happy and motivated team, leaders must be able to paint a vivid and attractive picture of the company’s ultimate destination. Effective leaders have a clearly articulated vision of where they are headed and the ability to enunciate why it’s so important to reach that goal and their plan for getting there. The more colorful, interesting and exciting the picture and vision, the more animated, unified and aligned the troops are likely to be.

2. Demonstrate passion.

All the facts and supporting figures in the world are likely to fall on deaf ears if a leader does not demonstrate real and genuine passion for the mission, vision and values they are following.  Positivity is contagious, especially when it comes from a respected and truly passionate leader.

3. Walk the talk.

Not only do leaders need not be setting the company’s vision, they should also be willing to get in the trenches and help out when needed. With strong teamwork skills and proven expertise, leaders should still be willing to collaborate with their team. Likewise, delegation skills are essential; great leaders are able to masterfully walk the line between too much and too little and can delegate without micromanaging or overwhelming a team member. In the Arab world region, while the majority of professionals say they are supervised just right according to a recent Bayt survey, 31% feel over-supervised, whereas 15% of professionals say they are not supervised at all, at work. Great leaders don’t just strategize and supervise; they execute.

4. Communicate often and honestly.

36% of professionals in the Middle East agree that they have open communication channels at their workplace, but not as open as they would like them to be. The best leaders don’t assume they know it all. Instead, they listen intently and listen often; they listen to their team, their customers, their competitors, their stakeholders and the marketplace and are always asking themselves and others how they can do things more uniquely and effectively. Strong leaders are also great mentors and coaches able to not just motivate, but bring out the best in their team members.

5. Recognize and reward.

Leaders are leaders because they have followers who feel rewarded by their participation in the company. As a leader, ensure that good performance is recognized and rewarded both privately and publicly, and as often as possible. 62.2% of professionals in the region claim that they do receive recognition or praise at work. Great leaders give credit where it is due and consistently allow others on their team to shine.

6. Maintain high levels of integrity and credibility.

Some leaders are more likeable than others, but even less affable ones are still able to inspire, motivate and excite their teams to pioneer innovations with excellence. Strong character and credibility by a leader inspires trust and loyalty in a team. In one Bayt.com MENA poll, 39% of respondents indicated that they feel their management is extremely professional, 33% indicated their management was moderately professional and 28% indicated they felt their management was not professional. 13% of professionals in a separate poll indicated that what they like most about their current job is the management.

7. Show your flexibility.

Great leaders can anticipate and adjust to changing market dynamics, needs and preferences and recognize the need for responsiveness, speed and innovation. Their brand and company thrives because they can embrace, anticipate and pre-empt change rather than deny its inevitability. Even their management style will pivot flexibly depending on circumstances and need, between delegating, participating and selling.

8. Encourage a culture of innovation.

Innovation is not possible without unorthodox, out of the box thinking; great leaders create a culture that encourages experimentation. Part of creating an innovation culture is tolerating failure, if not outright celebrating it, along the way. Great leaders realize that learning is impossible without some degree of trial and error and can transform their failures into learning opportunities.

9. Treat others with respect.

The best leaders are humble, honest, pleasant, respectful, engaging, humorous and can recognize that, as the old saying goes, they need to treat others as they would like to be treated, or risk losing them along the way. Great leaders believe in and see the best in others and can bring out that hidden talent or passion inside a team member.

10. Display confidence, loyalty and commitment.

When it comes to loyalty, an overwhelming 90% of professionals in the Arab world consider themselves loyal to their employer. To motivate others to stay the course and keep up morale, the best leaders are unwavering in their commitment to their mission, vision and confidence in their cause. Whether this means pulling up their sleeves and getting into the micro essentials, or gracefully picking up the pieces after a failure, good leaders are in it for the long haul and their loyalty and steadfastness is never in question.

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