Leading a Startup Team: Tips & Tricks from Kerstin Buschbeck
In the interview with Kerstin Buschbeck we learned more about the importance of a good and acknowledging leadership style that promotes a synergistic working environment. Read further to convince yourself of her suggestions.
Kerstin, you were the “Leadership Coach” for the 3rd Batch of the Weinberg Campus Accelerator and worked with the teams on their leadership and communication skills. What should founders keep in mind when founding a business and building a startup team?
Teams should be cross-functional and diverse. Typically, the team has a sales person, a technician (programmer) and a business person and can think and act from these different roles: Namely from the perspectives of 1) customer needs (desirability), feasibility and viability. From the beginning, I recommend making the team itself and the work processes a topic. Reviewing your own culture and your own in retrospectives is crucial for success. After all, a good team is a competitive advantage. Questions such as “Are we getting there effectively with the resources we have?” and “How do we measure our success?” support your own learning in loops.
In your opinion, how does an appreciative working environment look like?
Appreciation requires a dialogue at eye level. A shared vision, a common purpose and the achievement of jointly set goals are meaningful for startup team members and create the team identity internally and externally. Honoring differences, however, is at least as important. Creating a work environment in which “trust” finds its basis is something I consider worth striving for. Creating a climate in which it is safe to take risks increases the company’s innovative power. The following characteristics are expressions of this “psychological security”:
- Being able to admit mistakes
- It is easy to address problems
- Everyone brings his/her skills and ideas to work
- It is common to ask for support
- Culture of accepting other opinions and perspectives
- Asking for feedback is a habit
What are the different leadership styles? And which personality types fit them?
Discuss in your startup team how you want to lead employees. Do you have role models or your own experience? How does this differ from that of your co-founders? In which working environment do you want to work? You as entrepreneurs have the chance to convince through your personality and your actions and to create the working environment in which you want to work yourself. I suggest an exercise for this. In a silent brainstorming session, each founder writes down, “What does your perfect workday look like?” Afterwards, talk as a team about your perfect days and think about what that means to you.
Creating a climate in which it is safe to take risks increases the company’s innovative power.Kerstin Buschbeck
How can founders motivate their employees?
Intrinsic motivation comes and remains when there is room for freedom of action and role clarity, when decisions can either be made by the employees themselves or when decisions are supported. The more I can contribute using my strengths and talents and the more I work within my value system, the more I am motivated. A good expectation management helps, as does building a feedback culture.
What do you recommend to startup teams when dealing with conflicts?
Conflicts are normal. The question of how to deal with them is crucial. The WWW formula can help to address conflicts. The first W stands for “perception”, the second W for “effect” and the third W for “desire”. In the first step, one shares one’s own perception in a descriptive and non-judgmental way. In the second step you describe how you feel about it and in the last step you are already in the area of “ideas” and “finding solutions”.
Example: 1) Our meetings always last twice as long as planned. We talk about things that were not on the agenda. 2) This time is missing for other tasks, I feel frustrated. 3) My suggestion: in every meeting we should have a timekeeper and moderator and prepare well.”
What other advice would you like to give to startup teams?
Investors not only invest in the business model, but also in the startup team. In your pitch deck, use your team slide to answer the following questions: 1) Why you? 2) What makes you better together than each of you alone?
It’s not enough to line up your photos, describe your role, and randomly list lots of logos from previous employers. Use your team story in the pitch and don’t leave it out when you are pressed for time.
What makes the Weinberg Campus Accelerator so special in your opinion and why should startups apply?
The Weinberg Campus Accelerator Program is a great opportunity for startups to acquire specific knowledge in a short period of time. The Technologiepark Weinberg Campus not only offers a beneficial startup ecosystem, espcially in the biomedical and life sciences industry but also establishes a shared growth environment for everey startup to flourish. Moreover, the startup teams were given enough room to reflect and improve their skills.