I've spent the last two years working for a software startup company and have learned a great deal about what goes into such a venture. It's allowed me the opportunity to study and appreciate great leaders in the Tech industry - people such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and so on. In this short essay, I want to dive into my three takeaways from this journey thus far.
Culture means everything and should be thoughtfully crafted every day. Sure sounds like a cliche but let me expand on that a bit. A startup takes a lot of work and dedication from the entire team to get off the ground. If your CTO has the vision but developers are not fully engaged, chances are this will likely fail. Nothing of significant value and size will get accomplished from a bunch of folks working 9 to 5. It takes a certain culture and leadership to give this mindset established. Morale has to stream down and throughout the entire company daily.
Get rid of titles. They create egos more than anything. Startups tend to be full of meaningless titles that no one can explain. From vice presidents to chiefs and so on. Just confusion. Keep it simple and have people work together on what they are best at. Eventually, people will find where they fit best without forcing a title on them. What they can contribute to or perhaps what they want to stay informed about. Each individual should feel a sense of ownership for the entire process. Titles and departments just add barriers within the company and prevent the creativity and collaborative spirit needed to succeed in this environment. It sounds chaos, but its an organized type of chaos.
You need leaders, not managers. Most managers out there are mostly concerned with keeping the boss happy so they can earn their next badge. These are not the individuals you need around. Managers create workers and workers ought to be your worst enemies. How do I define a worker? Folks who sit around waiting for their next assignment. 9-5 folks with zero motivation besides the paycheck and the weekend. You get the idea. Leaders empower others through a sense of ownership and responsibility while fostering the next batch of leaders.