The Importance of Leadership

With all the talk in the news lately about presidential candidates, it’s a good time to reflect on leadership and what it means to be a leader. Here are nine posts on leadership:

  1. John Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership
  2. Leadership Book Review: The Secret
  3. Leadership is Not Speaking Over Others
  4. Repetition is Key in Leadership
  5. 2 Action Items Going from Doer to Leader
  6. Leadership Development Questions from The Secret
  7. Great Leaders Simplify Complexity
  8. Consensus or Leader-Led Decision Making in Startups
  9. The Four Essential Competencies of a Leader

From Warren Bennis, here are the four essential competencies of a leader:

  • Leaders are able to engage others by creating shared meaning
  • All authentic leaders have a distinctive voice
  • All true leaders have integrity
  • The most important competency is adaptive capacity — this is what allows leaders to respond quickly and intelligently to relentless change

What else? What kind of leader are you?

CEO and COO Roles in a Startup

One of the questions I’ve heard several times over the years is how we divided responsibilities between CEO and COO at Pardot. We tried several different approaches over the years before settling into a routine that felt right for our size and stage. Here’s how we divided things:

Some startups have an approach where the COO manages the functional areas and then reports to the CEO, but I’ve found this divide-and-conquer approach to be more common. Every startup is different, so it’s important to figure out what works best for your organization.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the CEO and COO roles in a startup?

Quarterly Employee Check-in Process

With it being near the end of the quarter, it’s a good time to revisit the idea of a quarterly employee check-in or lightweight quarterly performance review. When the startup is small, this can be overkill, but as it grows, this is critical. At Pardot, we kept things simple and answered these four questions every quarter in a Google Doc:

  1. What did you accomplish this quarter? (List top 5-10 accomplishments)
  2. What 3-5 goals will you focus on next quarter?
  3. How can you improve?
  4. How are you embracing the company values? (Please provide specific examples.)

Pretty easy, right? Once the doc was done, the manager and direct report met for 30 – 45 minutes to talk through it, and the manager provided any coaching or feedback.

Entrepreneurs would do well to implement a quarterly employee check-in process as the startup grows.

What else? What are some more thoughts on a quarterly employee check-in process?

Video of the Week: Dan Pink – The puzzle of motivation

For our video of the week, watch Dan Pink talk about the puzzle of motivation. As an entrepreneur and leader, motivation is constant topic, and an area to study. Enjoy!

From YouTube: Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.

Recruiting Executives in a Startup

While there’s significant talk about recruiting great software engineers and sales people, even harder is finding key executives to join a startup. Like anything important, it requires tremendous time and effort to do well. Yet, with so few qualified candidates, it can be even more challenging than expected.

Here are a few thoughts on recruiting executives in a startup:

  • Build a candidate pipeline well in advance of the hire and work to nurture the relationships (go ahead, set up a recurring quarterly calendar notification just to nurture the relationship)
  • Bring the board and advisors in to the executive recruiting process to help identify potential candidates as well as meet with identified candidates
  • When a qualified candidate has been identified, and is interested, run a Topgrading chronological in-depth survey (plan to spend 4 – 6 hours on interviewing each candidate)

Recruiting key executives to a startup is incredibly hard, and one of the most important things an entrepreneur will do. Invest the time to do it well and build out a great team.

What else? What are some more thoughts on recruiting executives in a startup?

Video of the Week: Seth Godin on the Difference Between Leadership and Management

For our video of the week watch Seth Godin on the Difference Between Leadership and Management. Seth has one of the most prolific blogs ever and is a well known author. Enjoy!

From YouTube: Bestselling author Seth Godin says that “Management and leadership are totally different things. You think you are being a leader, but you are probably being a manager.” He goes on to say, “Managers figure out what they want done and get people to do it. Managers try to get people to do what they did yesterday, but a little faster and a little cheaper with a few less defects.” But this is not leadership. What is leadership? You’ll have to watch this seven-minute video to learn more.