Startup Stories

“The age of one brain holding all a company’s knowledge is over”

How to, Upscale 4.0, Late Stage, Mid Stage

Vicki ShielVicki Shiel, November 22, 2018

The traditional view of what it means to be a leader is being reshaped to meet the demands of modern business and its emerging millennial workforce. Where once a lone wolf leader hogging the steering wheel might have been considered the way to go, now we’re much more likely to see a number of empowered employees making decisions collaboratively.

In chapter 3 of our new Upscale book – a collection of insights on what it takes to scale a startup – Sarah Wood, co-founder and chair of Unruly, shares her insights on leadership, empowering your employees, and how Unruly’s growing pains centred around what she calls ‘The three Cs’ of communication, culture and consistency.

Our 8 highlights from the chapter? Here you go.

1. Everyone has leadership potential in today’s more fluid, tech-powered world

It’s just that the notion of what it means to be a leader needs to be reset. Leadership isn’t about leading a team, necessarily, there are different types of leader and different types of leadership.

2. There are plenty of businesses with a lone wolf leader sat at the top hogging the steering wheel.

That’s just not the kind of business – or business culture – I wanted to create at Unruly. And it’s not the kind of business that necessarily flourishes in a digital age where business is ever more complicated and you need shared knowledge and collaborative decision-making.

3. You need lots of empowered employees at various points of the business

Who can function as the linchpins, the change-makers, the facilitators and the trainers – and without all those people you’ll struggle to build a successful business where the most talented people want to work.

4. If you want to lead today, then be the leader who’s powering the ship

And enabling everyone else to do their jobs, because we are in such a complex moment of time, businesses need to absorb and factor in expertise and perspectives from right across and up and down the company.

5. We need a broader range of role models

Carolyn McCall, Alison Brittain, Harriet Green, Karren Brady – these are some of the UK business leaders I most admire.

6. It’s not just about gender, either

It’s about economic background, it’s about race, it’s about sexuality. People today just want to be in a business where they can be themselves, because if you’re going to do your best work, you have to be able to bring [your genuine self] to work. That’s absolutely key.

7. We’re seeing a new type of leader

Because the emerging workforce is demanding a new type of leadership. The millennial workforce is much more motivated by purpose, by working somewhere where diversity and inclusion are valued, and they also want to be somewhere where they get continuous feedback, where they are invested in and are given the opportunity to progress in their careers.

8. Our most acute growing pains scaling Unruly were communication, culture and consistency

Communication became more challenging as we grew because we were no longer sitting around the same bank of desks, but we were sitting around four banks and then we were sitting across two offices, three offices, four offices… There’s no simple way to solve that, other than extreme communications: making sure that the communications are two-way dialogues and not just one-way broadcasts, and having regular contact – whether that’s through hangouts, stand-ups, or weekly one-to-ones with managers.

To read the rest of Chapter 3, and the other 25, get your copy today.

Order your copy now on Amazon