Leadership Programs Helps Startups Meet New Challenges

If you're an entrepreneur, part of a startup or even a member of a fast-growing business, one of the many goals you likely have as an organization is to create a unicorn company—a billion-dollar company.

And you likely want your billion-dollar company impacting billions of people.

Maybe, if your sights aren't set that high, you have a different sort of business, but you have a mission.

You have a goal you want to accomplish.

The question is, how do you, as a manager and a leader, help create an organization that accomplishes that mission?

The truth is, at the heart of many businesses are its people, whether intentional or not.

High-performing teams help drive these goals and missions in the first place to be able to get us there. To support the operations necessary and create the community and the environment required actually to succeed and achieve our mission.

See, team development doesn't require a significant amount of intellect or insights or masterful tactics.

More than anything, team building requires a keen understanding of people, their strengths and what encourages employees to stay engaged at work.

Leaders are only as successful as their teams, but the reality is, teamwork is primarily left untapped.

While every team is unique in its own nuances and dynamics, too often, untrained managers don’t have the proper leadership team development skills.

Untrained managers become oversized individual contributors rather than the leader high-performing teams need. Resulting in multiple challenges such as the absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results.

That’s why companies need to look into leadership development programs to ensure their managers and leaders are equipped with the skills and knowledge to build strong teams consistently.

While there is no cookie-cutter approach, a leadership development program can provide the tools and frameworks to understand the nuances of team dynamics and ultimately tailor a leaders’ approach no matter at which stage a team might find themselves.

Leadership team development teaches managers how to master the “art of people” and how to maneuver people at the right place and at the right time to build unstoppable teams.

A leadership development program will prepare startup managers to enhance their skills with their team and prepare them to meet new challenges such as the ones below:

Challenge: Lack of Trust

A lack of trust in the workplace is the virus affecting workplace culture.

It often begins with leadership and spreads throughout the team, leading to a cycle of unhealthy responses that affect engagement and productivity.

It starts with a lack of connections.

Why is human connection missing at work?

As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a specific image—an image of confidence, competence and authority.

Brené Brown, an expert on social connection, conducted thousands of interviews to discover what lies at the root of social relationships.

The data revealed what it was: vulnerability.

Vulnerability here does not mean being weak or submissive. On the contrary, it implies the courage to be yourself. It means replacing “professional distance and cool” with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.

But you can’t be vulnerable with your team if you don’t know them.

As a manager and leader of a group of individuals, you need to know your team.

Learning about your members expands your capacity to understand the needs of each individual while embracing differences of opinion and perspectives, thus creating psychological safety—one of the six levels of high-performing teams.

Psychological safety is also core to leadership team development as it sets the springboard for the entire team to embody their fullest potential.

By getting to know them, you can also define their strengths and capabilities—a real opportunity to maximize capacity and understand what each member brings to the table.

Think of your team as puzzle pieces; when placed together in the right way, they form a strong product. However, if you don’t know how each part connects, you’ll risk having an unfinished result.

👉 Solution: Get to know your team.

Challenge: Lack of Conflict

Silence is killing your startup, and your lack of productive conflict is the reason good ideas never make it to the surface.

Silence often starts when we choose not to confront a difference.

Given the dissimilarities in our temperaments, backgrounds, and experiences, it’s inevitable that we will have different opinions, beliefs, and tastes.

The French word différend, tellingly, means “quarrel.” Not surprisingly, most people decide it’s easier to cover up their differences than to try to discuss them.

Research shows that this tendency to remain silent rather than express a difference exists in individual relationships and groups. We fear a loss of status or even expulsion if we differ from the rest.

The fear of conflict is identified as one of the key dysfunctions of a team in Patrick Lencioni’s work.

Only team members who trust one another will feel comfortable engaging in the unfiltered passionate debate around issues and decisions. Otherwise, they are likely to hold back their opinions.

One of the most important tasks a manager may do to increase communication among their team and to generally encourage and model team leadership development is to give good, actionable feedback to their team; the Radical Candor Framework by Kim Scotts shows you how to do so without being an asshole.

Feedback is simply the art of excellent communication.

Many leaders are prone to wait until a problem occurs before they give feedback.

But it should be proactive and constant.

It is the key to assuring any team is staying on track and improving each day.

For communication to be truly effective at your company, team members must be able to share their ideas relentlessly, and not hold back from their feedback, disagreement, dissenting opinions and be willing to engage in rigorous conflict over the ideas at hand productively.

You can learn how to provide and receive proper feedback through leadership development programs.

👉 Solution: Open channels for constant feedback and honest communication.

Challenge: Unengaged Workers

Employee engagement is an individual’s emotional and behavioural commitment to the organization and its objectives.

According to a Gallup study, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their work.

Disengaged employees monopolize managers’ time, drive away customers, and produce less and lower quality work.

On the other hand, when employees are committed to their organization, they don’t just show up for the paycheck. They actively contribute to the organization’s goals.

Engaged employees want to further themselves in their work roles, but also want to elevate the organization.

The best managers understand that their team’s achievements are the driving factor behind business success, so they care about their people’s success.

Take the time to give your teammates the proper accolades they have earned and deserve.

Far too many leaders take performance for granted because they don’t believe that one should be rewarded for “doing their job.”

A great manager will motivate their team, recognize their value, and actively seek and encourage feedback.

But not just anybody can be a great manager.

Being a thoughtful leader that acknowledges and rewards their team for their efforts goes a long way towards building a high-performing team.

Give your managers the leadership skills they need with one of Unicorn Labs’s leadership development programs.

👉 Solution: Acknowledgement and reward achievements.

Challenge: Lack of Clarity on Roles

Acknowledgement and rewards alone aren’t enough.

Leaders must also ensure that their people have the requisite competence and clarity to make successful decisions.

This means an empowering organization spends more time outlining the clarity of purpose, roles and responsibilities.

Empowered employees without sufficient competence, organizational or role clarity cause chaos.

Every member needs to know their role or assignment on the team and what they’re responsible for doing.

In particular, they need to know how their work will contribute to the team’s overall work. Of course, roles need to remain flexible. You don’t want people rigidly adhering to “my job” or exclaiming “not my job!” when others need help.

Without this kind of clarity, no one will feel they’re a valuable and valued member of the team.

Clearly documenting who is in charge of what and by when will create a smoother teamwork environment.

“A team should operate as a mosaic whose unique strengths and differences convert into a powerful united force." — Forbes.

👉 Solution: Define clear roles and responsibilities

Challenge: Lack of Self-Awareness and Accountability

Understanding the impact of our own moods in leadership is fundamental to providing a psychologically safe environment where accountability is valued.

Primal leadership states that we act as emotional guides, and our emotions are contagious.

As the leader of the team, you must be highly aware of your leadership style and techniques.

Although you may be in charge, how you work may not always be appreciated by your team members.

Is your leadership style as effective as you think? How well are they accepted by the team you are attempting to lead?

Evaluate yourself, be critical and hold yourself accountable in areas where you can improve.

You can always course-correct and modify your approach if necessary to assure that you’re leading from a position of strength and respectability.

To know who you are as a leader, read more of the DISC personality test.

👉 Solution: Be self-aware of your own leadership style.

Challenge: Inattention to Results

Another challenge permanent amongst teams is inattention to results—the tendency of team members who care about something other than the collective goal or mission of the group.

Leadership comes down to conversations.

In our conversations, we establish psychological safety for our team members, in which we lean into vulnerability.

It is in our conversations that we adapt our language and style to their personality types.

It is in conversations that we show emotion, that we empathize, that we emotionally engage with our team.

It is in conversations that we empower our team to make decisions.

And it is in conversations where we ensure our team efforts are aligned with our organization’s encompassing vision.

The team leader must set the tone for a focus on results. If team members sense the leader or manager values anything other than results, they will use that as permission to do the same for themselves.

A way to overcome this challenge is to take time to celebrate your team’s successes.

This goes beyond acknowledgment—this is about reflecting on what you and your team have accomplished and what you’ve learned through the journey.

In today’s age, people do not take enough time to understand why they were successful.

And many managers fall into the trap of self-aggrandizement because of what their team accomplished rather than celebrating the success stories of everyone’s efforts and perseverance.

Celebrating your team’s successes will show your employee’s their efforts and work are part of the company’s goal and journey to achieve its mission.

👉 Solution: Outline an all-encompassing vision and celebrate successes.

In this day of informational ubiquity, of nanosecond change, of how fast technology changes and how quickly business moves, teamwork remains one of the most sustainable and competitive advantages across the industry.

With properly trained managers who know how to optimize team dynamics through leadership team development, they can rise to the challenge, and everyone at your startup will be able to unlock their highest potential.

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