Important Leadership Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs to Master

Keith Krach
January 27, 2017

As a startup leader in the digital age, there are likely to be times when your leadership skills are the sole force that keeps your business moving forward. Troubles with finances, growth scaling, customer acquisition, and even strife among employees all have the potential to contribute to the failure of a new business, but a founder equipped with the necessary leadership skills will be able to confront these problems as they arise. Listed below are a collection of important leadership skills that every entrepreneur needs to master in order to drive his or her business toward success.

The ability to build excellent teams

No matter how many hours a startup founder devotes to his or her company, he or she will eventually need to rely on a network of trustworthy teammates in order to keep the business moving forward. Great leaders understand that they can achieve much more with an effective team than they can accomplish alone, and they invest time and energy into surrounding themselves with the right people. Leaders who find talented individuals to fill specific roles within the team can create a cohesive, open group that has frank conversations about business and builds a culture of trust that ultimately makes for better business decisions.

The ability to delegate

On top of the ability to build a strong team, all startup leaders must also learn how to delegate tasks to those team members when the time comes. This can be difficult for many entrepreneurs, especially those who founded a company and watched it grow through the early stages on their own. However, delegating tasks to trusted employees is a necessary step in giving a leader more time to turn his or her attention to the pressing responsibilities that arise as a company grows.

The ability to innovate

Especially in the digital age, great leaders need to have at minimum a commitment to the pursuit of innovation. In this sense, innovation does not solely mean the incorporation of modern technologies, but rather refers to the way that a leader approaches every aspect of business. This includes operational aspects such as his or her approach to customer service, product development, and marketing. Entrepreneurial leaders need to feel comfortable rejecting the status quo, opting instead to look for ways of doing business that are faster and more efficient than the competition.

The ability to communicate

The importance of strong communication skills in a leader cannot be understated. The ability to communicate clearly is often named as the most beneficial skill that a leader can possess, because it’s the tool that leaders use to inspire, execute strategy, and create alignment within their companies. Entrepreneurs must be able to communicate in order to correctly articulate a vision and steer the business toward its goals. Clear communication skills also help startup employees understand what is expected of them, mitigate the kind of internal confusion that slows business velocity, and facilitates a level of transparency that can inspire trust in leadership.

The ability to respond well to feedback

The most successful entrepreneurs recognize the value of feedback and seek it from as many sources as possible, including customers, business partners, and even their own employees. Receiving feedback that doesn’t line up with one’s own professional vision can be difficult, but startup leaders must be able to create emotional distance between themselves and the advice in order to look at a situation objectively. Leaders who are oversensitive to constructive criticism and assume that they have all the right answers limit their company’s potential.

The ability to maintain confidence

No professional can become the leader of a successful startup without confidence. Confidence is what inspires and reassures employees when challenges arise. Confidence is what gives a leader the ability to make the difficult decisions that are an inevitable part of doing business. A leader may not always be sure of the future, but must always be confident in the company vision and in his or her tenacity in the face of pressure.

The ability to stay tenacious

Many startup founders will fail at their first business venture. What differentiates these individuals is that great startup leaders don’t let failure set them back permanently. Great startup leaders are tenacious and see mistakes as learning opportunities that spur growth. In practice, this means sparing themselves from agonizing over the “should haves” and instead analyzing where they went wrong in an effort to avoid the mistake in the future. In the face of failure, startup leaders must have an ability to stay determined to succeed.

The ability to effectively manage stress

Running a startup can be an invigorating, rewarding experience that makes a leader excited to come to work every day. But that positivity can be diminished when a leader does not take the time to manage his or her stress. The most successful startup founders recognize the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, getting the right amount of sleep, and taking time to relax and recharge when necessary. A leader cannot be optimally effective unless his or her mental well-being is taken care of.

Keith Krach

Keith Krach is Chairman of DocuSign, The Global Standard for Digital Transaction Management.