A startup with an unestablished culture where roles and responsibilities overlap might often see conflicts amongst its leaders and owners. Reconciling between people and diffusing these conflicts to meet the organisational objectives work is the key to success. Even though conflicts between two different minds cannot be avoided, taking steps to reduce the number of conflicts by incorporating healthier governance mechanisms, and having realistic expectations is the way to build a progressive business.
Startup entrepreneurs are usually identified with being young, dynamic, positive and highly ambitious. With these traits, they quickly make their mark in the market, but sustaining their image and being constantly profitable can only be achieved with experience and expertise.
At such a juncture, founders feel a dire need of hiring leaders with a proven track record of delivering results. While entrepreneurs are confident about their own vision and believe that only they can take their startups to success, these hired business leaders come from different industries with a different stack of experiences and perceptions with an aim to produce positive results.
They not only have the knowledge or expertise to get things done better, but they can even sense invisible threats and opportunities and capitalise upon. This perception difference may lead to a conflict with leaders often disagreeing with the business owners over the do’s and do not’s of the business.
Entrepreneurs need to be wise enough to benefit from the experience of these veterans rather than pursuing their gut feels. As intelligent businessmen, entrepreneurs should be willing to implement the Pareto’s 80/20 principle and give away a 20% of their policies to make the leaders accept 80% of their objectives.
When it comes to strategic planning leaders show more maturity than first-time startup founders. Due to their experience, business leaders know exactly about the art of sailing murky waters and anchoring their boats at the right shore. Most entrepreneurs can only see the prospects and have no clue about the challenges and problems they will face in order to take advantage of that opportunity. Leaders often have a better understanding about the persona of candidates to hire, the opportunities and threats of the markets in which to invest in and a host of other practical knowledge. Thus, consulting them and giving them enough powers is a healthy thing to do.
Communication is very much essential in avoiding all forms of conflict. After delegating authority to the leaders, entrepreneurs should define their expectations to them. In the startup culture, due to the multiplicity of tasks leaders undertake, clear and lucid communications become essential to avoid duplication of work and misalignment of goals. Clear, specific and precise communication flow should be adopted so that there is no conflict or chaos.
The leadership and entrepreneurship should be on the same page when it comes to priorities. Both the management and the ownership should be clear in their chalking out of their priorities and should lay focus on doing the urgent and important activities first.
A lack of attention to this important issue would not only waste time and resources, but also spark up tensions and heated arguments if important deadlines are missed at the expense of less important ones. So, having a consensus around common goals after a give and take between leaders and startup entrepreneurs is vital to avoid conflicts in the current booming start-up culture.
About the Author
Yogesh Sood is the CMD of Blanchard Research and Training India LLP. He is also on the board of Indian operations of DOOR Training and Consulting, VitalSmarts USA and Aspectum Consulting, Finland. Sood is an influential business leader with more than 35 years of corporate experience in serving some of the most celebrated national and international brands in the food, pharmaceutical and other sectors such as Amul, Novartis and Aditya Birla group.