tech accelerator, team meeting

Tech has thrived during the pandemic, experiencing major growth trajectories thanks to the radical changes to buying, lifestyle and business habits across the globe.

If you’re about to take on a leadership role in a tech start-up, how can you ensure you also thrive? These are the nine non-tech sector skills that you need, in order of appearance…

Securing the leadership role – interview and negotiation

  • Rapport Building

From the start, the existing team will expect to see you as easy to connect with, easy to collaborate with, and that you are on the same page as them. Leveraging your best rapport-building skills will pay dividends: not only will you connect quickly with the existing leaders but you will also reassure them that you can build a great rapport with existing and future customers.

  • Communication

This is arguably the #1 skill throughout your career. To secure your role, you need to clearly communicate who you are, the quantifiable impact that you will have and how, with relevant examples, you can help move the fledging business from A to B, with metrics, measurements and time commitments to your actions and results.

When negotiating your role, communicate strongly and clearly about the requirements of your role and how performance and results will be measured. If there is no historical precedent for measuring your role, work with existing leadership to establish expectations.

Once onboard, communication will continue to be a much-used skill. You will need to clearly communicate strategy, business goals and reasons for both popular and unpopular decision-making every day. This communication will be both verbal and written and carried out while simultaneously motivating the workforce. You will also be communicating new business products and features to customers or prospects regularly, which sometimes may be quite conceptual and require careful communication management.

Starting the role – fast starts and early results

  • Flexibility

Be open minded when you look under the bonnet: things may not be exactly as you expected. See this as an opportunity: find unexpected areas where you can have a positive impact. Be prepared to handle tasks, team members and projects that stretch the limits of your agreed role, because in start-ups there are no real limits, only those that are self-imposed.

Shortly after starting your role (2-4 weeks in), approach those who hired you with a proposal of how your role can be flexed to enable you to positively influence the new areas you have identified.

  • Teamwork

Your new team needs to see not only your rapport-building skills but also your ability to thoroughly embed yourself into whatever task is required. You need to quickly demonstrate that you understand the business, its goals and their role in achieving them. Embrace their business experience, no matter how junior or senior they are. You bring skills and abilities that they don’t currently offer, and they bring business knowledge and customer intelligence that you don’t currently have. Form ways to connect your skills and their knowledge for rapid results.

  • Multitasking

Be prepared to handle multiple projects, targets and business requirements from day one. Due to the pace and bandwidth requirements of most tech start-ups, this isn’t just a basic requirement of anybody in a leadership role: it’s something you need to genuinely love and thrive on.

Thriving in the job – sustainable success

  • Coaching

According to Reema Gainley, founder and success coach to B2B start-ups at The Gainley Group, “Great leaders, the types of leaders who were able to empower and inspire others through fast-paced change, like we see in the tech industry, are those leaders who know how to communicate effectively and learn how to coach their teams for mutual success.”

For your tech start-up to thrive, every member of the business must also be thriving and growing too. Your role as a coach is essential not just for them, but also for you to be able to pass high-responsibility tasks to the wider team, freeing up your time to focus on other priorities.

  • Crisis Control

In tech start-ups, sh*t happens. They develop products, push them to the limit, test them, further develop them and so on. Occasionally things will break. Your ability to manage any crisis scenario calmly and with positive outcomes is essential. You need to be able to manage the internal team, and often customers too. Throughout these high stress moments, you need to focus on external outcomes and to lift and carry both your teams and your customers through to the other side.

  • Prioritisation

Your workload will never shrink: it will grow constantly as you become more established and more capable of delivering results. Prioritising tasks into short-term, long-term and urgent attention will need to be second nature. It’s also vital to know when to abandon tasks. Not only will this help your start-up to thrive, but this will make your role sustainable – nobody can do everything that they want to.

  • Autonomy

There will be times when you need to get your head down and execute activities independently. Sometimes these may be tasks that you are familiar with and other times you will be encountering brand new challenges. In both instances you need the courage and confidence to act independently and with conviction.

These nine skills – and the diligent application of them – will see you flourish if you can apply one quality across everything to ensure you truly succeed: resilience.

You will be thrown every challenge, task, curve ball and opportunity in your start-up career. Showing up with a daily dose of resilience will ensure you don’t just survive your role but thrive in it.

Vanessa LovattAbout the author

Vanessa Lovatt is Chief Evangelist at Glisser, an award-winning technology platform powering unique company event experiences and meetings, anywhere.