You may have managed a company, but in order to build your own you’re going to have to develop different qualities. Being a great leader isn’t necessarily the same thing as being a great manager.
As Todd McKinnon, CEO of Okta, puts it in a guest post for Fast Company, the two roles flex entirely different sets of muscles. In order to build a successful company, a startup CEO needs to develop and exercise skills beyond the ones he or she may have mastered running a department.
Whereas a manager can help a team execute against an established plan or system, and in the best cases, amplify results, only a strong leader can build the momentum required to change that plan or jump-start a new one.
Having made the transition from an engineer at salesforce.com to founding and growing his own company, McKinnon has unique insight into the shifts in mindset and skill set that managers need to adapt to in order to effectively lead. Among the things he’s learned — management communication is different from leadership communication, and simply attempting to manage company culture doesn’t really work. But he gets to the heart of the matter with the observation that, “While management responsibilities can be delegated, leadership cannot.”
For more thoughts on how to make the leap from good managing to great leadership, read McKinnon’s full post here.
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Different situations call for different styles of leadership, and the best leaders know how to put things into context and adjust their approaches, accordingly. Expansion-stage companies, in particular, require a special brand of leadership. You can accelerate your process of mastering it by reading this post on do’s and don’ts from the OpenView Blog.