The importance of leaders as coaches and being able to give feedback

In the dynamic world of technology startups, where innovation and agility are paramount, the role of leaders as coaches and feedback conveyors becomes increasingly crucial.

Drawing inspiration from my book Global Influence, this article underscores the essence of leadership in fostering startup success. Emphasising the Human Explorer, the Learner and Stretcher, and the 3 Cs of Global Influence, it offers a blueprint for startup founders to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship while maintaining a focus on team development, effective communication, and collaboration across diverse ecosystems. By embodying the roles of the Conveyor and the Coach, founders can guide their startups through the intricacies of growth, scaling, and global outreach, ensuring a balanced journey that prioritises both business objectives and founder wellbeing. This approach not only drives startups towards their vision but also cultivates a resilient and innovative culture, essential for thriving in the competitive tech landscape.

Explore – Learn – Stretch: Developing Your Entrepreneurial Mindset

In every endeavour, startup founders possess the unique capability to shape their environment and those within it positively. This journey begins with a mindset shift, challenging traditional notions to unlock profound impacts on team dynamics and the broader startup ecosystem. At the core of this transformative approach lies the emphasis on people—cultivating authenticity, confidence, and motivation. Founders are encouraged to become Human Explorers, delving into both self-discovery and the understanding of their team's diverse needs. Through this exploration, founders can forge meaningful connections, transcending cultural and personal barriers, leading to enhanced collaboration, increased productivity, and overall wellbeing. This holistic strategy not only propels startups towards achieving their business goals but also fosters a culture of continuous learning and innovation, essential for thriving in the competitive tech landscape.

Expanding on the transformative power of leadership within the startup ecosystem, founders must embrace their roles as both learners and stretchers. This involves a perpetual quest for knowledge, seeking out new ideas, technologies, and methodologies that can propel their ventures forward. Yet, the journey doesn't end with acquisition; it's about applying this knowledge, stretching beyond comfort zones, and challenging both oneself and one's team to innovate and grow. Such a mindset fosters a culture of resilience, adaptability, and continuous improvement, crucial for navigating the complexities of the tech landscape and achieving long-term success.

Creating a Coaching and Feedback Culture

Integrating the principles of feedback and coaching within a startup environment involves a strategic blend of 'push' and 'pull' techniques, tailored to foster autonomy, growth, and motivation among team members. For feedback, the focus is on constructive communication, emphasising behaviour over personality, and offering actionable suggestions for improvement. This approach encourages a culture of openness and continuous development. Coaching strategies, on the other hand, leverage questioning and empathetic listening to guide individuals towards self-discovery and solution-finding. By adopting the roles of conveyor, coach, and challenger, startup leaders can effectively influence their teams, promoting a balance of guidance, autonomy, and critical thinking that drives innovation and success.

For the purpose of this article, we will focus only on feedback and coaching strategies.

Feedback Strategy for Startups

Feedback within startups should be constructive, focusing on behaviours rather than personal attributes, and delivered in a manner that encourages growth and development. A three-step process can be utilised:

  1. Identify the Behaviour: Clearly and objectively describe the behaviour that needs attention.
  2. Discuss the Impact: Explain the effects of this behaviour on the team, project, or company goals.
  3. Collaborate on Solutions: Offer suggestions for improvement or ask the recipient for their ideas on how to address the issue, promoting ownership and accountability.

This strategy ensures feedback is actionable, specific, and geared towards positive change, fostering a culture of open communication and continuous improvement.

Coaching Strategy for Startups

Coaching in startups should empower individuals to find their own solutions through guided discovery and questioning. The SHIFT model provides a structured approach:

  • Seek to Understand: Engage in active listening to fully grasp the individual's perspective.
  • Harmonise: Establish rapport to ensure a comfortable and open dialogue.
  • Intervene with Questions: Use targeted questions to encourage self-reflection and insight.
  • Functioning Check: Regularly assess if the conversation is moving towards the desired outcome.
  • Time for Action: Conclude with a commitment to specific actions and follow-up to ensure accountability.

This approach enhances self-reliance, fosters a growth mindset, and encourages personal and professional development within the dynamic startup environment.

Let’s wrap up

In the vibrant realm of technology startups, where the pace of change is relentless and the demand for innovation never ceases, the principles I lay out in Global Influence serve as a vital compass for leaders.

This article has navigated through the pivotal roles of feedback and coaching, emphasising the need for leaders to be both conveyors of wisdom and facilitators of self-discovery. As startups journey through the challenges of growth and global expansion, the adoption of these strategies ensures not just the achievement of business milestones but also the cultivation of a culture where continuous learning and resilience are paramount. In doing so, startup leaders not only propel their ventures forward but also champion the wellbeing and development of their teams, solidifying the foundation for lasting success in the tech ecosystem.