The perfect startup leadership team is different for each company. However, there are a few universal truths that are critical for any startup team that wants to be high performing. Consider these 5 things that the best leadership teams strive to do:
1. Get an A player in each role
While some teams may be more engineering focused while others will be sales heavy, a universal need is having an A player in each functional leadership position (i.e. VP Marketing, VP Engineering, etc). Each of those people will be responsible for filling out their individual teams with other A players that work effectively together.
2. Hire player-coaches
Startup leaders need to be able to do the work themselves, and also manage a team and guide them towards success. A person that can do all of that well is often referred to as a “player-coach.” For example, when you are first launching your sales team, you need a VP Sales who can get in there and close a deal while also writing the sales playbook and recruiting great sales reps.
3. Be biased towards tactical skills
A frequent mistake in startup management teams is hiring leaders who were successful at big companies when there were lots of resources surrounding them. However, when they get thrown into a startup and have to do everything themselves, they flounder. Hire people that can actually do the tactical stuff you need, not just talk about doing it or hiring other people to do it.
4. Communicate frequently
A perfect startup management team stays in sync. On my team, we do a weekly executive meeting and written updates to ensure we’re aligned and accountable for our top objectives. We don’t sweep issues under the rug and use our meetings to have discussion, debate and make decisions.
5. Stay humble
Effective startup leadership teams are humble. You recognize that your strategy is a best guess, and you are open to making frequent adjustments. When a team becomes arrogant and they assume they know everything, they are opening up failure points for a better run competitor to come in and displace them.