Values: they are our guiding principles for how we operate every single day. They represent who we are, why we do things, and what we stand for.
Your values drive everything you do; they can also define your startup’s culture. You can have them on display throughout the office to serve as an inspiration to everyone working there.
As an example, we can look to Mark McClain, Co-Founder and CEO of Sailpoint, a leader in cloud enterprise security, who speaks about the 4i values: integrity, individuals, impact, and innovation. These values drive his decisions and the actions of the people in his company every day.
Your values should be part of your corporate culture, to be woven into the fabric of the employees’ working lives. Every employee should know where they fit in the bigger picture. They should understand their role and responsibilities based upon their alignment with these core values. Leading by example will help with the integration of values into your company.
The first step toward leading by example is to understand yourself. Once you’ve figured out what kind of leader you aspire to become, you need to decide which values matter most to you. This may seem like a simple question at first glance, but it actually requires some thought. Values aren’t simply about making sure everybody agrees with you.
Rather, your values should reflect your personal beliefs and priorities. If you believe in honesty, then lying isn’t going to make sense to you. If you value creativity, then you won’t expect others to follow you without thinking through all possible options carefully.
When choosing your own set of values for your startup, think about what matters most to you personally. Do you care about people? Are you passionate about helping others succeed? Or maybe you prefer to focus on results over relationships.
Whatever your answer might be, try to find ways to incorporate those qualities into your leadership style. For instance, if you truly care about people, then you’ll probably choose leaders who share your same outlook. Likewise, if you prioritise results above anything else, you’ll likely select managers who work hard and take pride in their accomplishments.
Forget about the old-fashioned notions of office hierarchy
Most likely, you’ve worked for a company where treating lower-level employees with less respect is “part of the job”. Employees in companies that have a “pay your dues” mentality are often treated as though they are disposable.
As a result, they may be unable to influence critical choices and the direction of the company. On-the-job training also includes learning office etiquette and developing coping strategies for workplace politics. This vicious cycle is repeated when these people progress into managerial roles, where they belittle the new class of employees, which can ruin an organisation.
Startup culture is greatest when people are willing to take risks and where achievement is rewarded based on merit. It honours people over processes, collaboration over control, selfless ambition over ego, and learning from mistakes as much as creating them. Startup entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to fail; they’re simply more willing than others to try again.
This mentality is more critical than ever in an era where it’s tough for new companies to get off the ground at all. However, if you want your business to succeed in today’s entrepreneurial world, you must adapt to these new ways of thinking in order to avoid the traditional office hierarchy.
Avoid the ivory tower mentality
The ivory tower mentality or the ivory tower syndrome is generally used to describe the disconnect of leaders from their teams. This is something that startups should avoid.
Startups need to build a collaborative atmosphere where employees feel like they’re part of one large family. It’s vital for people to work together as a team as everyone has various skill sets. If there isn’t any collaboration going on inside the team then things might go south rapidly.
A business should be composed of individuals that love working together rather than an isolated community. And having the ivory tower mindset where you as a founder do not take the time to work closely with your team will lead to poor business decisions. You become so isolated that you forget that you have a team to help you when problems arise.
Spend time getting to know your team. Even if you cannot be physically present with your team, your online meetings should not just be limited to the confines of your business. Take extra time to get to know your team members, hold a watch party, or vote on things that you and your team can do outside your business.
Be kind and consistent in your working behaviour
Culture is set at the top of the organisation. Your company’s culture will only take shape if your staff believe in the practices you’re asking them to adopt, so make sure they do. More importantly, you will not grow a solid culture if you don’t give these initiatives and practices 100% of your own effort.
Being thoughtful not only improves your office environment but also gives your business a human touch. Always put your team’s concerns, interests, and values over productivity and profitability, and do so without sacrificing any of those things.
Additionally, employees benefit from consistency because it gives them confidence in their work duties and workplace expectations. In an inconsistent working environment, people are forced to constantly second-guess decisions. Because consistency creates a sense of security among employees and leaders, it allows you to delegate responsibility without having to micromanage. It builds confidence amongst team members since everyone knows their role in the project therefore no tasks are neglected or overlooked.
To start with, create a positive work environment focused on minimising stress. Allow your team to take brief breaks to recharge. Maintain constant communication and treat your team as fairly as you can. As a result, your employees will be less stressed and less overwhelmed, which will help them be more productive.
Being a startup founder requires more than just building on a product or a vision. Leading your employees with principles to achieve common goals without destroying their morale or dignity is what it’s all about. To be successful, you must immerse yourself and your beliefs throughout the entire organisation.
It won’t happen overnight, but keep in mind that even the simplest actions may have a huge effect. If you’re a leader, set an example for your followers. Teams can only be built this way if they’re built to last.