6 Personality Traits That Startup CEOs Need

June 10, 2016

3:44 pm

There’s a big difference between starting a company and running one. The personality traits required to get the rock in motion are different than those needed to keep it in motion. To create momentum at a startup, the CEO must be wired for success. He or she needs to have or cultivate the following 6 personality traits to create the foundation for a thriving company:

1. Be Confident

The unsuccessful CEO hopes the startup will succeed; the successful CEO knows it will. Startup CEOs must display an unwavering belief in themselves and a steadfast commitment to what they are creating. They must learn from the naysayers who offer valuable feedback, regardless of how eloquently or obnoxiously they offer it. Although confident CEOs are coachable, they don’t allow the unfounded doubts of others to inhibit their conviction.

2. Be a Team Builder

The most important people a company ever hires are the first few employees. The startup CEO must select them with intuition and skill. The first employees should embody the culture the CEO aspires to create. They must have a high tolerance for risk and the ability to wear many hats…because they will need both.

3. Be Resourceful

No matter how much funding an organization raises, it will never feel like enough. Financial realities will constantly temper the CEO’s grand vision. Thus, the CEO needs an instinctive ability to do more with less. Every dollar spent on one thing is a dollar not spent on something else. Therefore, every purchase needs to stand up to the question, “Is this the best use of our money at this time, and if we didn’t buy this, what could we buy instead?” Successful CEOs understand how to utilize available resources for maximum impact and growth.

4. Be Hands-on

Startup CEOs must roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. In the beginning, they must check their egos at the door and work in the business as well as on the business. All the while, they must relentlessly focus on where they are going, not just where they are. Many startup CEOs struggle to find that balance. Either they can’t relinquish control over day-to-day tasks and trust their people, or they fall prey to “shiny object syndrome” and pursue opportunities that are off-mission. As the organization matures, the CEO will naturally become less hands-on and channel energy into fulfilling the company’s vision.

5. Be Adaptable

Startup CEOs need to be the chameleon. They will be directly involved with all aspects of the business and therefore need to relate to people with different personality styles. Salespeople, who tend to be extroverted, might want to be managed differently from IT and finance people, who are often more introverted. The key is that the CEO must treat people the way they wish to be treated – not the way the CEO wants to be treated. For instance, the CEO may be big-picture, but if the staff need details, the CEO must provide them. The more flexible the CEO is, the more successful he or she will be.

6. Be Resilient

In its first year, a company will swing between exciting victories and disappointing setbacks. Startup CEOs must have the ability to cope with failure, stay calm during challenging times, and keep themselves focused despite adversity. Successful CEOs must train themselves to be relentlessly optimistic and rebound quickly. They must learn from breakdowns and focus their people on the future, not the past.

The CEO’s personality and accompanying choices determine an organization’s early results and growth. The above personality traits help CEOs create a culture that turns the vision into reality.

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Merrick Rosenberg is the CEO of Take Flight Learning, which he founded in 2012 and co-founder of Team Builders Plus, which he started in 1991. He is the author The Chameleon: Life-Changing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has a Personality or Knows Someone Who Does and co-author of Taking Flight!, two books about the DISC personality styles. Merrick received his MBA from Drexel University who selected him as the Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year. Under Merrick’s leadership, his company has been recognized as the New Jersey Business of the Year and named one of the Fastest Growing Companies and Best Places to Work in the Philadelphia area. Merrick has worked with more than half of the Fortune 100 companies in the US and around the world. For more information, visit http://takeflightlearning.com/.

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