Setting a New Company Up For Success By Selecting Effective Leaders: Is Leadership Born or Bred?

by Kaitlin Coons

Forming a new business requires thoughtful decision-making, and as an entrepreneur it’s tough to prioritize which tasks should be tackled immediately.  Choosing the right team of core leaders is arguably the most critical piece of your new business’s puzzle.  While strong leadership is important in every organization, startup executives have even bigger shoes to fill.  Dealing with poor company leadership right out of the gate is like buying your company a one way ticket straight into the ground.  If you pick the wrong individuals, your time will be spent dealing with internal conflicts rather than external growth.

So the question becomes, “How do you prevent this type of train wreck from occurring?” How do you choose effective leaders for your company when you yourself may have minimal experience with talent pool management?  Two opposing schools of thought exist when seeking out the perfect business partners.  Some believe that a person’s leadership ability is ingrained, and that you’re either born with it or without it.  Others apply an environment-based theory that suggests certain parenting styles create leaders by teaching their children the necessary skills to persuade. 

So, when you’re selecting those key players it’s interesting to learn how they became effective leaders in the first place.  If leadership is an innate quality, the selection process becomes a task of asking the right questions to identify personality traits.  On the contrary, if leadership can be taught by effective parenting, it likely can be taught by effective mentorship within an organization.  The task instead becomes selecting the brightest talent and then teaching them to become the leaders your organization needs.

Born leaders are those that immediately come to mind.  To find born leaders, your interview should look for individuals who are self-starters, great speakers, and don’t fear rejection.  Startup leaders must possess a few additional qualities.  This list can provide some insight while you look for the best people for your team. 

Whether you personally think leaders are born or bred, a startup can foster growth in its core team by nurturing them.  A recent article from Entrepreneur magazine lists 8 ways parents can help their children become good leaders.  While the article is geared toward parents, most of the same principals apply to mentorship in a corporate setting.  For example, encouraging individuality, problem solving, and rewarding risk taking are all ways to “train” leadership skills. 

Once you’ve selected great leaders, you’re off to a great start in forming a successful startup.  After your team is in place, call a Clements & Shackle attorney to figure out the next steps in how to proceed efficiently and legally.