What does it take to be a good leader? Are you born to be one? Or can you learn to become one eventually, beating up the myth that “Great leaders are born, not made”?
Howie Chang, co-founder of The Commissioned and Merlin, ex-Redmart product fiddler, and ex-Viki design enthusiast talks to our resident nosy profiler on the habits that effective leaders secretly have in common and how learning to be one is within everyone’s grasp.
1. Attracting the right talent
Getting the right people, attracting the right talent is never an easy task to begin with. As a seasoned leader who has overcome multiple challenges to assembling a great team, Howie knows the steps he has to take to assemble the alpha team.
“A lot of it has to do with how you handle your relationships with people and being professional in your work,” Howie, co-founder of The Commissioned and Merlin.
Essentially, regardless of your status as a founder or employee, in order to build a team of like-minded people, you have to focus on doing what is most beneficial and what is right for the company. Keep your emotions out of the way and they’ll find you before you find them.
2. Embrace uncertainty
We try our best to make rational decisions, many times based on the level of fear we developed towards the unknown. Telling us to go against the grain - to embrace uncertainty, is counterintuitive and can be uncomfortable to some. However, in the sea of whats, whys, and hows, there is a rock solid gut feeling that refuses to budge amidst the strong currents of unknown.
Go with your gut feeling.
For those who face the dilemma of either staying on or moving on to greener pastures, don’t let thet lack of self-confidence stop you from accepting that seat-in-a-rocket ship opportunity, as advised from Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg.
Trust me, you already know what to do most of the time, you’ve already made your choice before you even know it. All you have to do is to make the move.
3. Execution is key
Everyone has ideas, everyone can try to make those ideas work, but the cold, hard truth is that not every idea will come to fruition.
The deciding factor behind a successful idea lies in its execution. If you ever had the notion that the origin of the product plays a huge role in its success, you’re right, but there’s more than meets the eye. It is not the origin that makes the difference, but the players, resources and the wealth of knowledge being shared that affects the execution of a product.
For most products, the ideal scenario would be to reach as many people as possible. To do that, the brand needs to cultivate a universal appeal and speak the right language. Finding a unique brand proposition is a challenge in itself, hence the value of sharing ideas and getting feedback from the experienced community as soon as possible.
If you are able to execute each step taking into account the feedback leading up to the product launch, I’d say that half the battle is won. The rest of the journey will be equally tough, but you will have that much more confidence in tackling them.
4. Establish a feedback channel
“It’s important to give people objective feedback,” - I’m positive that many of us have come across this advice, but how many of us actually practice this habit? That’s the elephant in the room.
For entrepreneurs, the psychological and physiological turmoil that comes with the euphoria is not to be underestimated. There are bound to be times when you lose your motivation or go into self-doubt mode. Here’s the accurate reflection of what a startup journey is like:
It is the down times when the leadership team is being put to the test. Despite the difficult period, true leaders will stand up and lead their team, listen to their members, reconnect with them and keep things moving.
It is crucial that the feedback channel is available throughout all phases of the entrepreneurial journey. Members need to know that their voices are being heard and keep leaders in check such that they are not just taking in the positive feedback, but hearing the negative feedback simultaneously.
People tend to be nice and tell you what you want to hear, and not what you need to hear. And that is why negative feedback is so important - it highlights the immediate problems you need to address, instead of fixating on the awesomeness of your company. False encouragement is not encouragement. The sooner the culture of providing feedback and the willingness to listen is being adopted, the faster the team grows, and success becomes within reach.
Be professional. Treat your people well. Go with your gut. Don’t let fear paralyze you. Doing is easy. Doing it well is hard. Don’t be caught up with your success. Listen. You’ll be an authentic leader, a well-respected team member, and most importantly, a successful entrepreneur.
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