Why Founders Should Treat These Commandments as a Way of Life
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Most startups fail because the symptoms of the following Bad Founder DNA aggravate and show up in various obnoxious forms.
- Fundamental Attribution Error: In psychology, fundamental attribution error is our tendency to explain someone’s behavior based on certain prejudiced or preconceived internal factors, such as personality or disposition, and to underestimate the influence of external factors, like situational influences, on the person’s behavior. We often have certain prejudices about people. For example, based on some past incidents, I might have formed a notion that anyone graduating from a particular institute is a “bad hire”, or anyone coming from a particular province can’t be trusted. Such notions are nothing but outcome of arrogance and basic lack of wisdom. But once such a notion has been formed, I would be always tempted to attribute a failure to the behavior or performance of any such person in my team. I wouldn’t even bother to find out what external conditions could have resulted in a performance which I’m loathing.
- Predatory Aggressiveness: This is the tendency to see anyone as inferior, without any empathy. This is one of the main reasons why people leave an organization – when their bosses look down upon them as inferior creatures.
- Deceit: It’s the tendency to cheat anyone. Lack of ethics and scant regards for law and order often lead to deceit. Founders often resort to unethical and illegals means, just because they are desperate to increase the bottom line.
- Emotional Instability: Most founders exhibit various forms of emotional instabilities. Their behavior becomes erratic and soon obnoxious.
- Narcissism: Simplistically, it’s the tendency of thwarting “I” on everything and everyone.
The following Ten Commandments of Founders aim at ensuring that the founders never behave in a way that could be construed as a symptom of the Bad Founder DNA.
- Listen: Listen attentively. Allow the other person to complete. Take all points seriously, without any preconceived notion or illogical prejudice. This is the first step towards fending off the fundamental attribution error. Being all ears clears off lot of misunderstanding and prejudice.
- Respect: Don’t look down upon anyone. Don’t humiliate anyone. Never use unprofessional, disrespectful and negative words for anyone. Not showing respect is the worst form of predatory aggressiveness.
- Meet: Setup sprint meetings every morning and evening between the founders. Apart from being on the same page on a regular basis, these meetings would also provide a platform to all the founders to learn to “listen” to each other and “respect” each other’s views.
- Don’t Quit: Don’t give up, come what may. The term “don’t quit” here is more of a figure of speech. It stands for emotional stability. No one wants to work for founders who show signs of emotional instability.
- Be Accessible 24/7: Hear at once. Don’t kick the can. This sends out a very positive message to everyone that the founders are always available, round the clock, to meet them, listen to them and take care of them.
- Agree to disagree: Respect others’ views and suggestions but allow them the space to disagree with you and still work together and take decisions in consultation. The moment you don’t want to agree to disagree, you will have tendencies to show signs of predatory aggressiveness.
- “WE”, not “I”: Never say, “I”. True leaders seldom say “I”. No one likes managers who always say “I” rather than “WE”. “I” smacks of arrogance, lack of empathy and distrust. It creates a clear demarcation between “I” and the “Rest of YOU”.
- Be United: Pose a united front before everyone. A fractured founding team poses serious threat to the existence of the company. It evokes a sense of suspicion among the employees and clients alike. To an outsider it appears as though the founders don’t trust each other, are arrogant, are deceitful and hence can’t get along well with each other.
- Practice Equality: Treat every role and responsibility equally. Treat employees and clients both alike.
- Be Ethical: Don’t deceive anyone. Have regards for the laws of the country. Don’t compromise on the integrity, come what may.