Being a successful business leader, specifically an aspiring entrepreneur, can be an overwhelming position to be in. What should the hiring process look like? How can I best manage my time with this insane workload? How can I ensure I’m giving appropriate support to my team? We sat down with Silvia Christmann, executive coach, to discuss what’s important for entrepreneurs to consider when managing a new startup.
Check out more of what Silvia had to say for entrepreneurs below.
Q: What do you see entrepreneurs struggle with the most?
There are immense pressures and complexities in startups. From managing cash flow to finding product-market fit and the demands of a rapidly scaling customer base as well as a growing team. Knowing how to stay out of an overwhelming state to maintain focus for decisive actions is mission-critical. Lack of clarity and direction can quickly cause communication breakdowns, low engagement, lack of trust, and thus a slower execution. Learn to be a constant source of stillness and reason. Be aware that the overall mood of an organization is dictated by the leader in the room.
Q: What leadership style is most effective?
There are many different leadership styles one can employ, naturally gravitate to, or sometimes even purposefully utilize to navigate a shift in direction for the team and organization. I focus a lot of my work with clients on using a coaching leadership style. It’s simply easier to guide and empower employees. It brings out the best in the individual and allows them to fall forward collectively.
Q: Is it more important to hire for cultural fit based on core values or expertise?
Both, I think it’s mission-critical to hire for both cultural fit and expertise. If a person isn’t a culture fit for an organization, it will create misalignments and slow execution. A team member who has the expertise but not the same value sets and behavioral choices that guide companies can negatively affect those around them. Typically, they tend to stifle morale and motivation, thus disrupting favorable team dynamics.
Q: Let’s talk about burnout. How do you avoid it as a startup leader?
Burnout is real. Over 50% of all entrepreneurs burn out. It’s when the endocrine system can no longer normalize on its own. So, it’s basically a chronic imbalance between periods of high stress and periods of calm, energy mobilization, and restoration. Entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from passion-driven burnout as their desire to push their passion allows them to drive themselves harder than most other people would or could. My advice to all entrepreneurs it to start managing your stress levels early and to keep up simple habits like restful and sufficient sleep, regular exercise, as well as effective evening and morning rituals that help you avoid spikes in cortisol and adrenaline in the morning and allow you to decompress faster at night. And of course, a simple meditation habit can have a tremendous effect on your ability to maintain prolonged stages of stress in fast-paced and high-growth environments.
Q: How important is effective time management and planning for entrepreneurs?
It’s the foundation of staying clear and focused. With good time management habits in place, we can devote mental energy to more important matters. Most people lose valuable time on insignificant tasks that can easily be avoided with simple planning. Knowing how to prioritize will allow you to commit only to what you can actually do. I recommend staying on three tasks per day, that way you move forward and finish them. And above all - organize your inbox so you do not get lost in its vortex and other people's agendas. Learn to say “yes” without resentment and “no” without regret.
Silvia is an executive coach who’s spent the last 12 years working with leaders and their teams in fast-paced environments. She focuses on working with founders and senior management teams during periods of rapid growth giving them clarity and focus to take decisive action. Silvia works with teams to help them avoid pitfalls and uncover blind spots, keeping teams motivated and creating effective leaders.