How to be a great startup leader – create the best job ever.

When I calculated recently that I have interviewed over 5,000 people in my headhunting career I thought to myself, wow, that’s a pretty big number. Especially when you think of all that one-on-one time with people. I know the word ‘interview’ makes it sound like work — but it really wasn’t. Well, maybe the first 1,000 or 2,000 might have been “work”, but some time after that things changed.

What happened is that I started to focus less on “extracting answers” and more on really listening to what people were saying. What a great opportunity to learn! And it’s funny because often what they were saying was less about the words and more about the way they were talking. I still find it fascinating.

For example, when I ask candidates to think back and tell me about the best job they have had in their entire career to date, people literally light up. Especially when they relate a story about a challenging role they had in a great company where they had previously worked and where they had a boss or mentor who had made the effort to coach them through the difficult times. Often, the more challenging or difficult the circumstances they had faced, the more engaged and animated they are in relating the story back to me.

Remember this is their best job ever! They never talk about an easy job. It’s almost never their best-paid job. It’s always a challenging job and usually combined with the support, advice and encouragement of a mentor or manager.

Have you had your best job ever already or is it yet to come? Are you venturing outside of your comfort zone, growing and learning?

As a leader in your business, are you really listening to what your people are saying to you? Are you being clear in the challenges you’re setting your people? Are you stretching them the right amount and encouraging them and supporting them?

People are awesome. Watch what we can and will do if you give us a problem to solve, then challenge us, support us and encourage us to work together to solve it. Sure, we’ll make mistakes sometimes, but we can learn and get better if you invest the time and trust in us. Managers who accept this special responsibility are real leaders. Get these things right and your people will light up when they talk about you too. Maybe they will say it was their best job ever.

This article was written by Luke Henningsen and he is Co-Founder of the growing startup community at Ucities which is being developed to help provide a dedicated space for founders and startup people to network and support each other. He also leads a business called Scale & Swing, which delivers executive search to startups looking for senior talent at a startup-friendly price-point. Feel free to reach out to Luke on LinkedIn or at Scale & Swing or join the growing community at Ucities.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *