Leaders: Do You Even Deserve To Have A Team?

In the past, I have built a great team, in my own standards- despite a mixed bag of personalities. It is not ideal as I have not hired most of them myself. You find a lot of them completely opposite of what you want to surround yourselves with, or the talents that you’d like to hone within.

But that is the point of leadership: to be constantly challenged, confront it, and turn it around to work for you. It is just the way it is. Without this, do you really even deserve to have a team?

There will always be people working for you that are difficult, self-destructive, “emo”, whiner, gossip-monger, etcetera. It will never be perfect but it is not really all that bad. You lead, because that is part of your job. I always believe that you will always learn something from anybody in this world and this is no different. Avoiding the situation and passing the issue to others won’t do the job. You’re pushing the chance to fix your team and you lose your credibility as well.  Why not take this as a challenge? Why not get your hands dirty, get to the root of the personality and find ways to turn them around, focusing on their strengths (despite the bad attitude), empowering that portion and transform the aura of that person to meld to the mold? Too much of a job? Well then, goodbye respect!

It is presumptuous to think that you get to a high position in a company and you expect to do less of working and do more of bossing. There are so many of this around, it is a virus. Don’t be one. It is quite… what is the word… caustic.

No matter how you think you could entrust your employees to other people, you just need to trust the good. After all, we’re all adults and we all have to take our individual responsibilities. You just hope that they’d carry on no matter what with a smile on their face. It could happen, for sure. But dynamics is a tricky playmate.

Unfortunately, it is not a good ending within this story. Things crumble down for some. People do things differently and destroys utopia of ambitions. Not everyone could be a great manager. They destroy things by avoiding the situation and letting it burden the rest. It is a domino effect. You still hope for the best. You find silver linings. But having the knowledge that a situation crumbled your team down is disheartening.

It is hard not to care for something that you invested your passion in, something that you’ve built, only to learn that it is just a sandcastle.

The point is, you are given a team, face them. Stop fidgeting around saying how much you dislike them and do your job. Whoever leaves will carry your name forever – it depends how good or bad is reflective of what you’ve done for your team in the end.

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Hey, Young Startup CEO: Your title is nothing but letters unless…

Business title nowadays are overrated. As we progress and innovate, the creativity with titles go with them as well. But real professionals see right through these and focus on the people under these labels.

Youth could be the future — and they should continue to be. Let’s disregard the age but the maturity building a business. There are successes (indeed!) and pitfalls to some factors that affect a young startup leadership.

This is such a huge relevant topic for me to write as I have been digging deeper into some young startups and their shortcomings, failures, greed and the inability to understand money and virtue.

This is the dirty part of the ‘cool’ tech startup story.

Lack of Vision

This is a behemothic pitfall of anyone who wants to do something without any strategy of what the goals would be like in the next few weeks, months… days. Things change, directions could be skewed along the way but if you keep on ‘fudging it’, that means that you are not fully committed to what you want to do.

Arrogance

One of the best wisdom in this life is to learn that you do not know anything. This allows you to be open to learning: being right and wrong. If all you think that you’re so great and nothing else matters, other people of experience will see right through you.  Then, you fail to recognize your journey working on your startup and embrace the deeper value of this exercise. Some may win, being arrogant, that’s true. But you are miserably hated by everyone around you. The blindness will result to blame others if you encounter any problem. And you may have an unwanted reputation which could make you lose face along the way.

Greed

Most of startups get money from incubators, investors, angels, etcetera. These companies and people do this as business and to push technology forward. I am fortunate to get to know amazing investors who do care and will do their best to help the startups to excel higher. They would do it beyond money and would risk losing rather than doing nothing. It usually came from their own blood, sweat and tears.

So spend their cash properly! Making bold moves and braving it out there is a great key to get results. Aggressiveness in temperance pays back well. You try, they try. If all you could think about is the money that you ‘will’ earn and not to flourish your business altogether, then shame on you. Remember that you are spending other peoples’ money. It is not yours just yet. Be sensible.

I would like to make this work so we could be bought out within a year” – good luck, kid.

Finishing what you started

Commitment, perseverance and responsibility are the true virtues of being a leader. What irks me are those young startups who only think of themselves along the way and leave when the going gets tough. It is deceitful, manipulative and shameful. First of all, they asked for money, they are spending the money that they don’t fully own and at the drop of the hat, leave their own company that they’ve built. Then the reasons are shallow. Irresponsible. Worse, they still think highly of themselves without any pinch of humility.

If you really need to leave, perhaps make a graceful exit. Be helpful. Focus on managing your investors and cofounders, not on monetary means or your shares and equity terms. Show some dignity.

You only have one name. Protect it.

As you move along, your startup may become a success or a failure. If you compose yourself properly and professionally, that is never the end but the beginning of greater opportunities. You build your reputation over time, it never stops. The result of your business does not necessarily reflect on how you are perceived by your peers and the industry as a whole. That is important. So make sure that you live and work with your ethics intact because that is not trainable. It is in you. That goes a long way.

So, straighten up, young CEO. The journey is exciting. Just don’t be too annoying.

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“Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career.”

– by Angelo Sotira, deviantART Cofounder

Working Environment: Shapeshifter, Shadow and Mirror

Environment is a big influence within one’s self, memories and decisions. It creates a world that a person moves within.

A mentor told me today over Marmite on toast and hot chocolate ‘power’ lunch that “the grass is not really greener on the other side,” in terms of finding the ‘perfect’ working environment and/or job. That is indeed the reality. But what does mollify when nothing is perfect in the real world? There are some factors that meet what ‘green grass’ may mean.

Happiness. This leads to contentment, eagerness, motivation and most importantly, sanity. This feeling keeps you waking up in the morning and get to work and make things happen for yourself and your team. This propels your working environment to produce the demands of your position. This even results to loyalty and a reflection of gratefulness at work.

Respect. A mannerly work ambiance among colleagues results to this simple yet challenging principle in the workplace. This is a huge discussion on its own in which I would discuss over a few blogposts in the future. This principle is not bureaucratic but earnest guise of values and ethics. This also leads to trust that is another motivating factor. True enough, they are earned, not given. This exposes how an organization operates.

Great Leadership and Governance. I have learned at the start of my career in an American energy company from my admirable ex-boss that “everything rises and falls on leadership,” as a quote from Dr. John C. Maxwell. I live with it every single day and for more than a decade now, this keeps on proving without failure. Not everyone could lead successfully. Some are born to be, some sensibly grow and learn, some perhaps fail miserably, while others are blindly delusional. Being one is a behemothic undertaking that an individual could have and this is of an extreme importance in a working environment, reflecting how the company performs as a whole. This is the oxygen that determines the health of your organization. Domino effect.

Nothing is perfect. Reality is that you may not be compatible with everybody around you in the workplace. Not everything goes your way all the time. Some things may fail. Mistakes could happen. Something breaks. Something needs to be rebuilt. Do you sleep at night, not having to take your work home until it haunts you in your nightmares? Do you have to force yourself to go to work everyday out of fear and resentment? Is this what you really signed up for? Is this what you want?

Frustration, fear and resentment are the poison that suffocate a workplace. They kill productivity like cancer. They stop creativity. They cut through the heart and soul of everyone’s morale.

This is not even the danger. It is in its causatum.

Humans are great in adapting into their surroundings. It’s always been a proof of all civilizations. Immersion in a particular surrounding is a captive human nature. And working environment is just a particular place of practice for this.

If you go to a [insert adjective like ‘fun’ or ‘toxic’] office everyday, it could determine how you adapt over time. It evolves on how this will reflect on your being, inside and out. It will determine your principles and attitude towards life in general. It absorbs through your conscious (choice) and subconscious (feelings). Exposure and spending most of your time working vs time at home makes all of us susceptible to influence. The memory of experience is the residue that would reflect within your shadow afterwards.

This post is just a simple orientation. The biggest thing that you’d need to ask yourself now is: “Is this place worth my psyche?” Think about it.

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“Everything rises and falls on leadership, but knowing how to lead is only half the battle. Understanding leadership and actually leading are two different activities.”

Dr. John C. Maxwell

“To retain top talent in today’s competitive job market, employers need to do more than loosen their purse strings. They must create a work environment that reflects their employees’ life-stage needs and values. As the demand for experienced knowledge-workers intensifies, employers need to understand what motivates — and inspires the loyalty of — today’s high-performing employees. In most cases, it’s not the corneroffice or a large paycheck, but rather, the opportunity to work for a company that fosters strong workplace relationships and inspires a sense of balance and/or purpose.”

Maria R. Morris

 

Tricky Characters volume 1*

Career experience is not enough to judge a person’s body of work. It requires a deeper look into their perspectives and the way they learned beyond their in-the-books background. The idealism and realism are both powerful notes on how you could hire or work with the right people within your organization.

I was mistakingly judged by a younger executive that I won’t like a fast-paced working environment. Says who? My clear statement that “I easily get bored so I always have to feed fuel to my fire” may not be as clear as I thought. My problem is that I use metaphors and creativity to explain myself which usually gets lost in translation if the other party I am talking to possesses English only as their second language. From which, I have also communicated how important life-work balance for me is… to a 28 year-old young, single, restless and energetic executive. Hence, a bad conclusion. Like a mixture of bad cocktail drugs of [mis]judgment.

Beyond professional or personal factors, it is common to hear what you wanted to hear within any situation. That makes someone misjudge what is being truly said within the context of the whole conversation. Ever wonder why one negative statement could destroy the 999 positive things that you have done? Because personal opinions have not been segmented objectively. People jump quickly to conclusions without having to ask more, if uncomfortable, questions.

Emotions based on personal opinions are tricky. It clouds judgment and action. Yet they also spark the best creative ideas and passion. It is complex. Professionally (personally too), you just need to strike a balance.

– What is the objective?

– What are the major focus of this particular agenda for you to be able to come up with the right conclusion?

– Why do I feel this way, and is this feeling important to the matter?

– Did I really understand what has been discussed?

– Should I ask for more questions to reassert?

Judgment is a very strong word. But it always comes up anywhere. You can’t avoid it as much as you could try so why not just manage it? Just make sure that you won’t embarrass yourself in the process– or you should. It is, after all, a good mistake to learn from.

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Instinct is the gift of experience. The first question you have to ask yourself is, ‘On what basis am I making a judgment?’ … If you have no experience, then your instincts aren’t any good.

Malcolm Gladwell

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*This will be a series.