Entrepreneurship is one of the most challenging vocations on earth. Even during the best of times, it requires long hours, endless devotion, and a willingness to take big risks and make gut-wrenching decisions.
Today, as we navigate an unprecedented global health crisis, an entrepreneur’s role becomes even more demanding. The amount of difficult tasks and important communication threads business owners must juggle every day has grown by an unimaginable magnitude. It’s also worth noting that employees are looking toward leaders for guidance and reassurance.
They want to know that their professional lives are in good hands and that their company will emerge from this crisis stronger and healthier.
One person can’t shoulder all of these tasks and responsibilities successfully, which is why startup CEOs need to assemble strong leadership team that they can lean on during difficult times.
Traits to Look for When Hiring Your Leadership Team
I cannot imagine confronting the coronavirus crisis without my leadership team by my side. Every day, we meet on Zoom not only to discuss pressing issues impacting our business, but also to bond over books we’re reading and television shows we’re watching.
Besides this, we’re also working on several projects that will help our company thrive during and after the pandemic. This includes building out personal development plans to keep employees engaged and challenged and refreshing our core values to ensure they remain relevant in a post-coronavirus climate.
In my time as the co-founder and CEO of my company, I’ve identified a few traits that are incredibly helpful for leadership teams to possess.
Difficult situations often call for quick, decisive action. Plenty of candidates for your leadership team will have big ideas, but few will have a proven track record of transforming concepts into tangible solutions. When conducting interviews, be sure to ask for specific examples of each candidate’s ability to act decisively; look for a quick, strategic mind that can develop and implement innovative solutions.
Meanwhile, it’s incumbent on you as the CEO to create an environment that encourages action-oriented behavior. This means granting autonomy to your leaders, rewarding them for taking risks, and recognizing their efforts when their bold moves are successful.
Great leaders understand the value of collaboration. They work well with others, consider a wide range of perspectives, and challenge their colleagues respectfully. Even when extenuating circumstances (such as social distancing) drive them into isolation, they still regularly brainstorm with their teammates. They know collaboration yields the best, most innovative ideas.
Communication is key to building trust, ensuring alignment, and boosting companywide morale during a crisis. Your leadership team should be able to clearly express your company’s mission and vision as it adjusts to ongoing changes across the business landscape. The right candidates will possess excellent written and verbal communication skills. Likewise, they should also feel comfortable speaking in front of larger groups, fielding questions, and addressing concerns.
One thing I’m doing right now to keep up with communication is providing frequent Slack updates to my entire company. These are transparent check-ins regarding the state of the business during these rapidly changing times. Taking the company’s pulse in this way isn’t benefiting executives alone — it helps everyone.
All entrepreneurs, business leaders, and employees experience adversity throughout their careers—but their ability to conquer challenges and bounce back from failure is what sets them apart. During interviews, ask candidates for specific examples of setbacks they have overcome.
Ultimately, your aim should be to hire leaders who repeatedly exhibit resilience. A leadership team full of resilient individuals can help motivate your company to maintain its energy, enthusiasm, and ingenuity while confronting challenges—even in changing times.
A startup’s CEO is only as strong as his or her supporting cast. Starting on day one, surround yourself with a capable, trustworthy leadership team. Regardless of your company’s age or size, set a high bar when vetting candidates. These are the individuals you will lean on for years to come while navigating challenging scenarios. Approach this team-building task wisely, and you’ll certainly position your company for scaling and prosperity.
Chen Amit is the co-founder and CEO of Tipalti, a payment automation software that helps businesses manage their entire supplier payments operations by streamlining all phases of the AP and payment management workflow in one holistic cloud platform. Formerly the CEO of Atrica and Verix, Chen is a veteran high-tech executive and repeat entrepreneur.