Leadership Skills Startups Tech

What Makes an Ideal Leader in a Startup Tech Company?

leader in startup tech

Arguably, some tech startups become successful simply because the idea is so unbelievably good that it’s practically fated to become a smashing success. But more often, the idea is only part of the equation. Successful tech startups also require the right balance of funding and initial momentum. They need a team of dedicated, passionate people. And perhaps most important of all, they need a good leader. But, what makes an ideal leader in a startup tech company?

Strong leaders can take good ideas and improve them. They can take mediocre ideas and make them passable. They can attract funding, establish momentum, and inspire an entire team of people. In other words, the right leader can affect all the other variables necessary for a startup to be successful—and the wrong leader can tank even the best idea.

Which qualities are most important to lead a business to success?


First, great leaders tend to have a sense of vision. When they have an idea, they can visualize it, and when they don’t have an idea, they can think abstractly and conceptually to come up with one. Once they have a vision established, they can prioritize and build the rest of the business around it. For example, they can create a clear understanding of what the brand is and what it isn’t and steer operational models and marketing strategies to adhere to those principles.

Leadership Experience

It should be no surprise that great startup leaders also have some kind of past leadership experience, but this doesn’t have to come from a startup. You can get leadership experience in any context where you’re in charge of other people. For example, you might have been a manager at a fast-food restaurant or the residing President of a club in college.

Over time, you learn how to communicate with others, inspire them, and make better decisions. This experience is vital if you want to lead a successful business.


A good startup leader should also have at least some expertise in the startup’s industry and niche. For example, if you’re launching an app that helps people order groceries, you should have at least some retail and online ordering expertise. You can’t come into an industry as a total outsider and expect to be successful with strong leadership alone.

Reliance on Other Experts

That said, entrepreneurs can’t be experts in everything. No matter what, there will be many areas you don’t understand—and to be successful, you’ll need to lean on other experts to help you out. For example, you won’t be able to predict or solve your business’s legal issues, so you’ll need to research and find the right law firm to help you out.

Great leaders are humble enough to admit the limits of their own knowledge and abilities and are insightful enough to find true experts they can trust in these respective areas.


We tend to imagine strong leaders as profoundly confident, bordering on arrogant. But while confidence is important, it’s also important for leaders to be humble. Strong leaders who express and practice humility are open to the idea that they’re making mistakes and that maybe they haven’t learned everything.

Self-knowledge makes a leader open to further learning, which makes them more capable of growth. Humility also attracts respect, which is vital if you want to lead a team effectively.


Some people don’t take accountability for their actions or decisions. When something goes wrong, they’re eager to point the finger at something (or someone) else as a way of escaping blame. But good leaders have no issue taking accountability for their own decisions.

In fact, they see it as a learning opportunity. Even if there are circumstances beyond their control, they go out of their way to figure out the ways they could have done better.


Sometimes, making any decision is better than making no decision. When there’s an urgent problem to solve, sitting on your hands and doing nothing is the worst possible resolution.

Accordingly, the best startup leaders tend to be decisive; they favor action over inaction and are confident enough to make a decision and stick to it, even if it’s not perfect.


Few startups are successful from the very beginning. Most endure extended periods of hardship and challenges, with no guarantee of eventual success. But strong startup leaders are persistent, pushing through these barriers and continuing to press for their end goals.

Even if the startup fails, a persistent leader will attempt to build something new. Because of this, no small challenge can stand in their way.


There are many different viable leadership philosophies. You may prefer a hands-on approach, guiding all your employees individually and collaborating with them as much as possible, or a hands-off approach, allowing them to function autonomously.

There aren’t many “rightâ€� or “wrongâ€� strategies here, but strong leaders almost always have a consistent set of values. With consistent practice and a reliable philosophy, leaders can cultivate a strong work culture — and ensure that employees always know what’s expected of them.


While it’s ignorant to assume that everything will work out fine, there’s a strong benefit for leaders to be optimistic. They see the positive side of even the toughest challenges and always assume there’s a path forward.

A leader with positivity helps them solve tough problems. More importantly, optimism lends a forward-looking hand and helps managing leadership foster positivity and optimism in their teammates. Optimism breeds happiness and trust, which can boost morale.


Persuasiveness is one of the most important skills for a startup leader to have due to its sheer versatility. You can use persuasion to convince investors that your startup is worth funding.

You can use persuasiveness t to negotiate with clients and attract more customers to your brand. You can even use it to inspire and motivate your employees to do a better job—or believe that an aggressive deadline is actually possible.

Ability to Listen

Great ideas can come from anywhere, and good startup leaders know this. Accordingly, they’re willing to listen to just about anyone on any topic. They listen to their employees actively, understand their perspectives, and give the employees’ ideas a chance.

A fine leader listens to customers, allowing them to present a better solution to them when selling. They also listen to experts in a wide range of fields—including other startup entrepreneurs.

Listening is beneficial in several ways. Leaders who listen can learn more information and discover new insights, which they can use to improve the business. They’re better able to understand others’ emotions and dispositions, which they can harness to become better negotiators and conflict resolvers.

And on top of that, people love good listeners—so improving your listening can help you attract more respect and admiration.


Arguably the most important characteristic of a startup leader is adaptability—changing plans and updating both ideas and practices to address new circumstances.

In the startup world, things change almost every day; you’ll have to worry about changing consumer attitudes, new competitors, disintermediating technology, and constantly emerging information. Remaining adaptable in the face of all these evolving variables is the only way to keep your business afloat.

Whether you’re still attracting initial funding or are trying to scale your business to become a global enterprise, your startup’s success will depend on your ability to lead it.

There are competing schools of thought that debate whether great leaders are born or made. The consensus seems to be that even if you’re not predisposed to be an amazing leader, you can develop your leadership abilities with experience and focused improvement.

Use these leadership traits as inspiration to cultivate your own startup leadership style.

The post What Makes an Ideal Leader in a Startup Tech Company? appeared first on ReadWrite.

book list book list 2021 Leadership Leadership Skills ReadWrite

I’m Sick of 2020! Start Reading My 2021 List to Feel Better

start reading to feel better

As business leaders, successfully navigating during normal times can be challenging enough. During times of crisis like we find ourselves in today, maneuvering business can be downright daunting. We are all sick of 2020. Start your reading list, and feel better before 2021.

What do your leadership skills look like right now?

There is no better time than now to work on yourself as a leader, and there is no greater way to do so than by standing on the shoulders of giants.  As such, here are my picks for the Top 6 Inspirational Leadership Books to begin your reading for 2021 — to inspire and grow your leadership abilities to handle the challenges of today.

1. Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business by John Mackey

As a follow-up to Conscious Capitalism, best-selling author, and visionary Whole Foods leader John Mackey and his co-authors present a powerful argument for why conscious leaders are more needed today than ever before. They lay out what conscious leadership actually is, and how one can become a conscious leader.

This highly anticipated release features a renowned executive sharing the principles, vision, and mindset for how leaders today can drive positive change in society through intentional conscious leadership.

book conscious leadership

2. You Don’t Have to Be Ruthless to Win: The Art of Badass Selfless Service by Jonathan Keyser

Topping the charts at #1 on the WSJ Bestseller list, this brave and raw new book takes you inside the ferocious world of commercial real estate brokerage, where you see the author transition from a ruthless, money-hungry broker to a selfless leader at the helm of a rapidly growing, industry-disrupting brokerage firm.

But this book isn’t really about Jonathan Keyser—it’s about how you as the reader can adopt this same counterintuitive strategy to create extraordinary, long-term success in your own business.

reading list 2021

3. Friday Forward: Inspiration & Motivation to End Your Week Stronger Than It Started by Robert Glazer

Leadership depends on your ability to connect with and inspire others. This book from Entrepreneur and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author Robert Glazer offers actionable advice on how to do just that. Friday Forward takes the 52 most impactful stories from Glazer’s inspirational newsletter of the same name, which reaches more than 100,000 readers in more than 60 countries.

From stories of struggling entrepreneurs who turned things around to new hires rising to the occasion, Glazer’s latest book can give you the push you need to make an impact in your own network.

book friday forward

4. Life Gives to the Giver: Musings on Wellness, Success, Marketing and Being an Entrepreneur by Joe Polish

Joe Polish has been called the “world’s best connector,” and for good reason. The once ponytailed, dead-broke, drug-addicted carpet cleaner became a millionaire by the age of 30 and then went on to establish the world’s two highest-level marketing groups.

From advice on marketing and selling to thoughts on wellness and recovery, Life Gives to the Giver: Musings on Wellness, Success, Marketing and Being an Entrepreneur is packed with both wisdom and witticism, providing those who wish to succeed in business-and-life, a treasure trove that can help guide them exactly where they want to go.

book life gives to the giver

5. Leading Without Authority: How the New Power of Co-Elevation Can Break Down Silos, Transform Teams, and Reinvent Collaboration

Keith Ferrazzi, entrepreneur, coach, and author of the game-changing book Never Eat Alone, presents a daring, research-backed model of collaborative work. Ferrazzi details a new principle, co-elevation, that enables employees at all levels of an organization to connect with colleagues, collaborate freely, and inspir5 their shared growth.

Leaders can learn how to use co-elevation in their own organizations to help their teams build trust, manage stress, and improve performance across the entire company.

book leading without authority

6. Giftology: The Art & Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Client Retention by John Ruhlin

Radical generosity is the against-the-grain secret weapon of real influencers, and it will allow you to boost referrals, retention rates, and ROI like few other strategies. Through poignant personal stories and data-backed evidence, author and successful entrepreneur John Ruhlin breaks down how anyone can master the magic of Giftology and reap the rewards of an expanding business and fruitful relationships, professional and personal alike.

book gift ology


2020 has brought many unexpected challenges, and it certainly has not been easy for businesses and business leaders. 202o has made me wonder what I had to complain about before? I am certainly more grateful for the good things that happen.

Reading has always been an escape for me — and doubly so now. More than ever before we want to learn more, rapidly,  and apply that learning to survive in this economy.

But, 2020 has also provided extraordinary opportunities for committed leaders to self-reinvent and become better versions of themselves.

Don’t miss out on these game-changing books that will enhance and improve your leadership skills — even before 2021.

Top Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels

The post I’m Sick of 2020! Start Reading My 2021 List to Feel Better appeared first on ReadWrite.