As I reflect on my own experience at multiple startups and as I listen to others share their stories, it is apparent that leadership at startups can be unique. There are any number of challenges that are different at startups from more established organizations.
One such challenge is individuals who may find themselves in positions they are not prepared for or ever imagined themselves in. This could be due to exponential growth. Perhaps a great salesperson suddenly finds themselves in a management role requiring both strategy and interpersonal skills this individual has never gained. The skills that make a person a great salesperson are not the same skills needed for strategy or managing people. This can lead to imposter syndrome and a sense of not being experienced enough. This then, could possibly lead to behaving from a position of fear of something, a lack of self-confidence or an avoidance of a certain task. In a more established organization, a sales leadership role would most likely be staffed through a rigorous recruitment process with many experts involved to ensure the right fit.
Working with a leadership coach is one way to bridge this gap and work towards fulfilling your full potential as a leader in your startup organization. Being vulnerable and recognizing that you are experiencing imposter syndrome or lack of self-confidence in your role is the first step. Then, you can unpack, together with your coach, what is underlying the nagging feeling and work to change either your beliefs about yourself, your behaviors and/or your skills. For example, you might discover with a little bit of co-reflection, that what is causing the imposter syndrome is simply that you don’t have any experience putting together a growth strategy for your area of responsibility. Or you may discover that there is an imagined critical voice telling you (very unhelpfully) that you are not good enough for this role. Uncovering these specifics will help you to be able to make forward progress and help you to reach your potential as a leader in a startup organization.
Are you working in a startup? What do you see as unique leadership challenges in startups? How have you handled those situations? Share with me!