Leadership within a startup is essential for its success. The theories for how to become a leader are varied, with dogmatic beliefs held on many key topics so reading different points of view is enlightening because each successful leader is painted by preceding experience. Rare is the leader who is able to articulate the keys to leadership. Rarer still is the leader who is able to lead successfully in different environments using different techniques.

I’ve been reading Steve Sample’s The Guide to Contrarian Leadership. He makes a few points about the most successful contrarian leaders that are relevant to startups.

These three are focused on decision making and ensuring all the employees of a startup are heading in the same direction.

Hire the best lieutenants. Enable and require them to make decisions.

Never make a decision that one of your lieutenants can make for you. Only decide issues that cannot be delegated.

Enforce open communication with structured decision making. Everyone in the organization is free to communicate directly with everyone else in the organization, with the explicit caveat that any and all commitments, allocations, and decisions will be made strictly through the hierarchy. 

In our portfolio, there are many different styles of leadership. Nevertheless, across all of them, successful CEOs develop very strong advisory base both inside and outside the company, possess and articulate a clear vision and encourage open communication.