start⬆Mngr handbook intro: Lessons from leading my first startup team

start⬆Mngr handbook intro: Lessons from leading my first startup team

As a first-time people manager at a technology start-up (not a founder), I’ve made countless mistakes.

As result of my actions, people have quit, projects have failed, and efforts have gone to waste. My mistakes are the result of the trial and error approach I took in trying to get leadership right. Our start-up, like many other start-ups, simply did not have the resources available to get everyone proper leadership coaching.

For good and bad, we were left on our own to figure it out. I’ve thus learned the hard way that even with all the ambition, intelligence, and will power in the world, experience is irreplaceable in leadership, much more than any technical skills.

My hope is that by exposing my mistakes, it helps fellow start-up leaders get a head start, lead from insight rather than trial and error.

Why? Because ineffective leaders slow down others’ professional growth, end up frustrating people, and affect lives negatively. And I simply can’t stand watching well intentioned leaders not living up to their own expectations. Effective leaders will not only rapidly advance their own careers, but also help others achieve their full potential, push organizations to new heights, and make a positive impact in people’s lives. Yeah, it sounds rosy, but that’s how much of an idealist I am. Fact is, your success as a leader will translate into a better world for me as well.

What is a leader?

Before we get started, let’s get on the same page as to what a leader truly is. Google defines a “leader” as “the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.” I personally believe that our role can be more specific than that. I’ve always seen my role as three fold: To lead is to…

  • Set and support a vision that makes the world a better place;
  • Share and communicate our vision to gain support from others; and
  • Sustain momentum in the pursuit of our vision and always challenge the status quo.

Whenever I’m in doubt of what is the right thing to do, I remind myself of these core principles to get clarity.

Where do we start?

This 7 parts handbook is designed to help first-time managers gain exposure to core management concepts. Ideas exposed in this series helped me effectively grow a team of professionals from 2 to 20 individuals, at a start-up that grew from 15 to 120+ individuals in 3 years, successfully received multiple investment rounds from VCs, and also underwent a product pivot.

Here are quick links to the 7 parts of the handbook:

Welcome onboard and subscribe on the right!

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