Idea vs the leader: Who is the winner?

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The Success of a startup depends on a brilliant idea as well as an inspiring leader. In fact, most of the times, it leans towards the leader because the ‘idea’ of the startup is taken for granted. For an angel investor or a venture capitalist, ‘idea’ or the business viability is a necessary condition to allocate even their time to listen but the ‘leader’ and team the leader builds or intends to build turn out to be sufficient conditions to invest.


Building a team and sustaining it is essential to demonstrate one’s leadership and is desired the most in the context of a startup. How the Apple visionary Steve Jobs lured John Sculley in 1983 to leave Pepsi and join Apple to change the world and how N. R. Narayana Murthy of  Infosys kept faith in the company and did not accept to sell Infosys in 1990 are two classic examples of being a successful leader.

Every founder/co-founder is pressurized by the investors to build and hold back the team that is important for the sustenance of the startup. For this, it is important for the leader to understand his/her leadership potential and style, which is paramount to success, especially in startups.

Building a strong team is just one facet of a leader and there are several other attributes of startup leadership that will be put to test. Leadership has been one of the most researched topics in social sciences and researchers have been grappling for over 100 years understanding and interpreting leaders.

As of today, IQ and Big five personality traits are the two most time-tested instruments to understand and predict the potential of leaders. However, primarily the act of leadership can be looked at from two simple dimensions. One is to ‘Think’ and the other is to ‘Act’. Now this does not mean that if one dimension is observed in a leader, the other is not in existence. It only means that one can be categorized into one of these two, based on the dominant dimension.

For a leader, the alignment of the startup idea with his/her leadership style is critical to the success of the startup. A leader who belongs to ‘Think’ category may succeed better in building innovative products that solves customers’ potential problems, while a leader of ‘Act’ class might do extremely well in providing top notch services to customers.

Is your startup idea aligned to your leadership style?