It’s one thing to get a business up and running successfully, but once the startup phase has passed and entrepreneurs find themselves leading large scale teams, the reality of being a leader often reveals itself.
Here’s what some of New York City’s top entrepreneurs have to say about being an inspiring leader.
#1. Bring diversity to your leadership table.
Leah Gilliam, VP of Education, Strategy and Innovation at Girls Who Code told Built in NYC that it’s important to have diversity at your design and leadership table. “A table surrounded with a diversity of experiences, backgrounds and perspectives makes your ideas stronger and your products more resilient.
There are too many examples of design innovations gone wrong because the product team didn’t understand their customers’ experiences, values, and needs. Diverse teams aren’t an afterthought — they’re imperative for building better solutions and more rigorous ideas.”
#2. Genuinely value relationships.
Kenny Dichter. CEO and founder of Wheels Up, “often says “my friend” or “my buddy” when referring to his partners,” explains Entrepreneur. “He also emphasizes that if you want your employees to treat customers like rockstars, you need to treat your employees like rockstars.” That this value in relationships with both customers and employees is what creates retention.
#3. It’s OK to make mistakes.
Harvard Business School dropout and founder of LearnVest, Alexa von Tobel explained the biggest leadership lessons she has learned to the New York Times.
“Developing management skills is hard for everybody, and it’s about making mistakes, and trial and error. It’s about trying to figure out who you are as a manager and your own genuine strengths and weaknesses. There are certain things that come naturally — I am a great communicator. On the flip side, I don’t like giving people bad news. I am a positive person who wants to believe in people.One of the biggest insights for me has been that your gut really knows what you have to do and sometimes they’re things that are not easy. You have to listen to that and say, this is a really tough decision. It’s not one I’m excited about, but it’s the right decision, and you have to focus your energy on doing those things.”
#4. Seek counsel.
According to an article in Forbes, Carley Roney, co-Founder of The Knot (XO Group) explained that some of the most successful people know how to “seek the counsel of people outside their own businesses, including advisors, mentors or professionals.” Roney went on to say, “there are so many decisions to make and a trusted collaborator is a crucial tool to create confidence in your choices as a young/early entrepreneur.”
#5. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
When Matt Handshakin Holmes at Built In NYC interviewed the Founder of priceline.com and billionaire Jeff Hoffmam. Jeff told him a story where “he picked up the dry cleaning of one of his newest entry level employees. The newer employee didn’t even know Jeff was the CEO when he made the request, but Jeff chose to do it anyway since the employee was focused, and yielding results.”
Matt explains that the story’s message of “not being afraid to serve your team members will raise morale within your business. It is a well-known fact that everyone loves a leader that leads by example.”
#6. Don’t be certain about anything.
In a video for Entrepreneur, Nir Eyal, the best-selling author, entrepreneur and speaker, who’s pioneering the psychology behind creating habit-forming products explains that certainty can be more dangerous than ignorance for entrepreneurs. This is because when a person is certain about the way things are, they don’t see the world for what it could be.
“It’s up to us as entrepreneurs, to see the world as it should be –not necessarily how it is. When you think you’re sure of the way things are, that’s when you get passed up and you don’t see the opportunities that real entrepreneurs envision,” Eyal explains.