Get All Access for $5/mo

8 Tips for Running a Startup Like a True Leader Motivate and engage your team to do their best work.

By Oliver Isaacs Edited by Anna Wahrman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Tom Werner | Getty Images

Everybody thinks they're a leader, but most are far from it. Successful startups, at all levels, depend on leadership and the ability of a few to organize both day-to-day and long-term goals. On the face of it, this sounds simple, but the reality is that not everyone is cut out to lead and to run a successful startup. It requires a certain mindset and armory of skills. These eight tips can help you lead your team.

1. Be confident, passionate and positive

Confidence is addictive, and if you show a confident face, your team will also become empowered. That leads to strong, positive teams who are able to hit the ground running. Passion and enthusiasm are contagious. Great leaders are passionate about what they do, and they strive to share that passion with everyone around them. Positivity ties in with passion but sometimes positivity is harder to spread than negativity. Research has found that positive thinking is more beneficial to a team than any other non-financial motivator, and it promotes a healthy team mind-set.

Related: 5 Signs You Need to Step Back as Founder of Your Startup

3. Plan

Project teams run on planning. But the planning your company does needs to be carried out with the entire team, so that they all feel like they are part of the company and its decisions, rather than having a process being imposed on them. Every leader needs to have a clear vision of what they are aiming for and what the end goal is.

3. Be responsible

A leader is someone a team wants to follow, usually because they have shown personal integrity and do not shy away from what may be unpopular but necessary decisions. A responsible leader acts selflessly and in the interests of the team. A responsible leader exercises insightful judgment based on facts and gathered data rather than jumping to conclusions.

Related: 3 Big Questions to Sharpen Your Decision-Making Skills

4. Motivate and be humble

Vision is a clear idea of where you're going. A sense of purpose is about understanding why you're going there. People like to feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves, and great leaders give people that feeling. Team members will only perform well if they are motivated and can see the reasons for doing something. It is a core skill of a great leader to make their team want to achieve. In addition, great leaders are humble. They don't allow their position of authority to make them feel that they are better than anyone else. Be a better leader by being humble, smiling at everyone, showing genuine concern and helping as much you can wholeheartedly.

5. Understand your team

Great leaders make it clear that they welcome challenges, criticism and viewpoints other than their own. No matter the situation, showing the person you are working with that you are on the same team can go a long way. No team will be 100 percent effective all of the time, and team members will have off days. Spending time understanding the individual members of your group and recognizing any issues, either work or personal, that may affect them in the workplace will go a long way. Understanding your team will also allow you to identify their professional strengths and weaknesses and give them appropriate roles within the team.

6. Embrace workers of all ages

Many startups try to assemble young, dynamic teams. The savvy leader will look to include more seasoned people on a team and embrace their knowledge and experience. A recent report prepared for the British government suggested that this sector of the workforce had more to offer than those fresh into the workplace, making them extremely valuable. Older workers have much to offer and can be great mentors to younger team members who may not have experienced some of the problems older workers have encountered.

Related: The Importance of Candor and Other Lessons From a Former White House Chief of Staff

7. Provide appropriate resources

Teams can't work without the right tools and materials. It is your responsibility as a leader to ensure that they have what they need. That means that you may have to assist team members if they are tasked with something that requires resources and are reticent to push for them. But it will also mean ensuring that senior management — who may themselves be battling business costs — provide everything that is needed to complete a project.

8. Communicate at all levels

Communication is the real work of leadership. It's a fundamental element of how leaders accomplish their goals each and every day. As an effective leader, you are going to have to engage people at all levels of business and ensure that they understand exactly what is needed of them. A good communicator is able to get a message across and diffuse any ambiguity. People will come away understanding the message and be ready to follow your lead.

Oliver Isaacs

Tech / Blockchain Influencer, Investor & Advisor

Oliver Isaacs is a serial entrepreneur, tech/blockchain investor and influencer with more than one million followers in total. Isaacs and his team have worked with and advised some of the world’s leading blockchain companies, top social media influencers and tech investors.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

The Side Hustle He Started in His College Apartment Turned Into a $70,000-a-Month Income Stream — Then Earned Nearly $2 Million Last Year

Kyle Morrand and his college roommates loved playing retro video games — and the pastime would help launch his career.

Business News

A Former Corporate Lawyer Now Makes Six Figures on YouTube — Here's How She Does It

Here are the secrets to starting and growing a successful YouTube channel, according to a YouTuber with millions of subscribers.

Growing a Business

How to Determine The Ideal Length of Your Marketing Emails Your Customers Will Actually Read

Wondering how long your marketing emails should be? Here's what consumers say — so you can send them exactly what they like.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

Y Combinator Helped Launch Reddit, Airbnb and Dropbox. Here's What I Learned From Its Free Startup School.

The famed startup accelerator offers a free course on building a business — and answers five pressing questions for founders.