The Role of Leadership in the Startup World

By: Ana
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You've likely come across this staggering  statistic: 90% of startups face failure, with 10% of them failing within their first year of business. As we celebrate Revlum's one-year journey today, we decided to delve into what could be a determining factor for a startup’s success and that is - leadership.

Effective Leadership in the Startup World

Effective leadership isn't just about issuing directives and expecting results. It's the art of creating a shared vision, setting clear goals, and empowering your team members to take ownership of their work. When you communicate your vision and objectives with precision, your team can seamlessly channel their energies towards the common goal. This creates a sense of purpose and direction, which can motivate team members to go above and beyond in their work.

Now, in the dynamic world of startups, where resources are often limited, the role of effective leadership takes center stage. As a leader, you must be able to make tough decisions and prioritize tasks based on their impact on the business. You must also be able to adapt quickly to changes in the market and pivot your strategy when necessary. In essence, your leadership becomes the thing that empowers a small team to achieve big things and make a lasting impact in the industry.

But there's more to it than just leading the business; effective leadership also helps in building a strong company culture. A leader who leads by example sets the stage for a positive work environment that nurtures creativity and innovation. It's a culture where team members feel inspired, not just by words, but by the actions of their leader.

Now, various situations may require different leadership styles. Here are a few that can work wonders:

  • Transformational Leadership: This style centers around inspiration and motivation. Transformative leaders lead by example, igniting the spark within their team, fostering creativity and innovation.
  • Servant Leadership: Here, the focus is on serving the team, ensuring they reach their goals. Servant leaders prioritize their team's needs, creating a culture of trust and mutual respect.
  • Democratic Leadership: This style involves the entire team in decision-making, encouraging collaboration and participation. It creates an environment where every idea holds value, embracing inclusivity and openness.

And when it comes to effective leadership in startups, here's a nugget of wisdom from our very own CEO at Revlum:

Q: What would you consider an effective leadership in a startup?

An effective leadership is leadership under which people feel that the emphasis is on them and they feel invited to communicate without any blockers.

The Traits of Thriving Startup Leaders

Beyond fostering open communication within their teams, successful startup leaders have a few other characteristics in common:


Successful startup leaders have a clear vision of where they want to take their company. They are able to see the big picture and set long-term goals that align with their vision. They are also able to communicate their vision to their team and inspire them to work towards it.

Risk Taker

Taking risks is an unavoidable part of the startup world, and taking calculated risks is something good startup leaders are not afraid of. They are willing to step out of their comfort zone and try new things, even if it means failing. They understand that failure is a part of the learning process and are not deterred by setbacks.


Leading a startup can be a challenging and stressful experience, and successful startup leaders are resilient in the face of adversity. They are able to bounce back from setbacks and stay focused on their goals. They are also able to adapt to changing circumstances and make necessary adjustments to their plans.


Effective startup leaders are decisive and able to make tough decisions quickly and confidently. They are able to weigh the pros and cons of different options and choose the best course of action for their company. They also understand that not making a decision is often worse than making the wrong decision.


Understanding the importance of collaboration and teamwork is another key characteristic of successful startup leaders. They are able to build strong relationships with their team members and create a positive work environment. They are also able to delegate tasks effectively and trust their team members to get the job done.

Some say that two essential attributes of a startup leader are the ability to multitask and the willingness to delegate responsibilities. Our CEO offers a perspective on this matter.

Q: Do you find multitasking and delegating responsibilities to be effortless in your role as a startup leader?

This is definitely not a simple one. These two processes don’t have a clear start or stop as they are always connected. You pass on responsibility and then you evaluate, and I try to consider myself as a resource in that equation, i.e. multitasking is a measure of delegation towards yourself. 


Last but not least, successful startup leaders have a deep understanding of their customers and are focused on meeting their needs. They are able to identify customer pain points and develop solutions that address them. They also understand the importance of building strong relationships with their customers and providing excellent customer service.

Our CEO offers some insights on the ideal characteristics of a startup leader:

Q: What, in your opinion, are the key characteristics a startup leader should have?

Leave your ego at the doorstep and just get to work. Fail fast, it’s nothing personal. Speak once, listen twice. I would boil it down to the old motto of Jack Daniels: “Everyday we make it, we’ll make it the best we can.”

Navigating the Challenges of Startup Leadership

Here’s the thing – leading any business is no walk in the park. But when it comes to leading a startup, that’s a whole different story. It's an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience, no doubt, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. If you want your startup to not just survive but thrive, you must be able to navigate these challenges while also keeping your team motivated and focused. 

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges a startup leader encounters is managing limited resources. Startups often have small teams and modest budgets, which can make it difficult to achieve their goals. As a leader, you must be able to prioritize tasks and allocate resources effectively, ensuring that your team is investing their efforts where it matters most.

Effective communication is another challenge in the world of startup leadership. You must not only convey your vision and goals clearly to your team but also provide them with constructive feedback and guidance. Equally important is your ability to listen attentively to the feedback and insights your team offers. 

Now, while leadership skills come naturally to many people, leading a startup is a whole different game. Our CEO shared his perspective on this:

Q: Does leading a startup come naturally to you, given that leadership skills come naturally to many folks?

I feel this is something I always wanted to do and we have a good thing going on. If everyone in the team is truly involved then you are not in it alone. You can easily tackle most issues you face daily, but it can be a struggle not to lose your core values in the process because they are constantly challenged.

Indeed, starting a new business is a journey full of uncertainties. From market fluctuations to unforeseen challenges, you'll encounter a wide range of obstacles, some of which could either make or break your startup's success. Your ability to steer through these uncertainties while keeping your team focused on the ultimate goal is a defining factor in this journey.

In the world of startups, change is a constant, which is why a startup leader must have a great  ability to adapt to these  changing circumstances and adjust their strategies accordingly. Our CEO offers his insights on handling the uncertainties that come with leading a startup:

Q: How do you, as a startup leader, handle the uncertainties that are inherent in any startup?

Once you are certain of your core, the base from which you’re coming from, and once you trust it, then you don't fear addressing smaller everyday hurdles. If it makes sense in its essence then you're confident that all the hurdles are worth solving because they are just opportunities for optimization.

The Traits of Ineffective Startup Leaders

Just as we can see some common traits among successful and effective startup leaders, we can also identify certain characteristics that ineffective leaders share.

Lack of Communication Skills

Communication is the key to success in any organization. Ineffective leaders often lack communication skills and fail to convey their thoughts and ideas clearly to their team members. This can lead to misunderstandings, confusion, and a lack of direction.

Lack of Vision

Effective leaders have a clear vision of where they want to take their startup. Ineffective leaders, on the other hand, lack a clear vision and fail to provide a sense of direction to their team members. This can lead to a lack of focus, wasted resources, and missed opportunities.


Ineffective leaders often micromanage their team members, which can be counterproductive. Micromanagement can lead to a lack of trust, low morale, and a lack of creativity. It is important for leaders to delegate tasks and trust their team members to get the job done.

Lack of Empathy

Empathy is an important trait for effective leaders. Ineffective leaders often lack empathy and fail to understand the needs and concerns of their team members. This can lead to a lack of motivation, high turnover rates, and a toxic work environment.

Lack of Flexibility

Ineffective leaders are often inflexible and resistant to change. This can lead to a lack of innovation, missed opportunities, and an inability to adapt to changing market conditions.

Now, our CEO shares his thoughts on what makes ineffective startup leadership:

Q: What, in your opinion, defines ineffective startup leaders?

Putting yourself in an echo chamber and not being fast in absorbing and addressing feedback. Being driven by anything other than common sense - and it’s usually very clear what you need to do if you are open to the signals surrounding you. 

The Potential of Small Teams in Startups

Small teams are the heartbeat of startups, and they have a unique power that larger teams cannot match. The team's size plays a critical role in a startup's journey, and here's why it's a game-changer.

Small teams are agile, adaptable, and can make decisions quickly. They can work together closely, and everyone can have a significant impact on the company's success.

In a small team, each member has a specific role and responsibility, and everyone is accountable for their work. This accountability leads to a higher level of commitment and ownership, which translates into better results. Small teams also foster a sense of camaraderie and teamwork, which is essential for a startup's success.

Small teams possess a unique freedom to be more creative and innovative because they are not burdened by bureaucracy. They can experiment, take risks, and pivot quickly when necessary. They can also be more agile than larger teams, which allows them to adapt to changes in the market and stay ahead of the competition.

Now, let's hear from our CEO about the qualities employees need to have within a startup setting:

Q: What do you find to be most important when it comes to your employees? What personality traits and work approach do you seek in a startup environment?

Independence, effective and tangible input as a result of daily communication. Ability to explain their strong suits, blockers, and a way of going about it that is focused on improvement. Ideally everyone wants to impress their colleagues with something awesome they came up with. 


Our small team has made it past year one and we look forward to seeing what lies ahead. We are ready to face any challenges that come before us and, as our CEO said, we’ll make it the best we can. 

With year one behind us, we are now starting a new chapter, embracing the unknown, viewing it not as an obstacle but as an opportunity for growth and innovation. As we move forward, we're committed to surpassing our own expectations and leaving a lasting imprint in the industry landscape.

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Bookworm & travel junkie. Drawn to the innovations and strategies shaping the ad tech realm.


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