“If you don’t plan how to lead, when you are just starting out even as a two-member team, then dysfunction gets embedded in your company, in your startup culture. And it is difficult to eradicate this dysfunctionality later on,” said Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter at TechCrunch Disrupt, here in San Francisco today.
More importantly, as ready takeaways for startup founders, he spoke of two specific things about how to manage and lead your company.
- Ultimate paradox: As a leader you need to care deeply, very deeply, about people, and not caring about what they think about you. Managing by trying to be liked is a path to ruin, though you might think I am direct. Little ways in which you try to be liked is to tell people what they want to hear. Trust me, lead your team by being forthright and clear. Lead by clarity. Care deeply for your team. Be forthright and honest with them.
- Individual superpower: In San Francisco, Silicon Valley, we idolise these amazing leaders who have been successful, books are written about them, on the ways they do it. TV, media, is talking about them — this is what they do, why they do, how they do. And we start to imitate what we hear and read about how they became successful, forgetting they were the same people ten years back, and what worked for them might not work ten years forward. So, it is absolutely critical to absolutely internalise, and build your company culture. There are many, many, different ways to be successful. Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, once mentioned to me at a conference, ‘Look at all these women leaders. All of them have a cool superpower about them, all so different.’ It was a poignant remark. Find, therefore, your own means to be successful, find your own individual superpower, and be successful in your own way.
Summing up, be clear in communication, and be totally transparent as a leader with your team. Lead in a way which is being true to yourself; don’t go after being liked. And find your own superpower, and path to success.