Avoiding Leadership Mistakes: How to set yourself up for success

Noam Toister

In this article written exclusively for Business Leader, Noam Toister, CEO and founder of ground transportation platform Bookaway, shares his insight into some of the struggles and challenges of becoming a manager for the first time, and how to avoid common leadership mistakes.

First-Time Management

Connecting while scaling: In the early days of the company, there were just 10 of us and it was simple to steer the ship while every employee had a strong rapport. Taking the business from 10 employees to 100, and then going on to lead 300 staff is an entirely different ball game – it really is like managing different companies.

Scaling while still connecting is an art form. When you have more employees and when you hire managers, you no longer communicate directly with the employees as you used to. Conveying your message to the employees is more challenging, as there are more mitigators in the company who do that, and each person tells a story in a different way.

Similarly, the more a company grows, the more it needs structured processes and methodologies. If you implemented a certain tool or methodology and people are not using it, ask and understand why – don’t assume. Today, we don’t make any decisions without data. We have integrated more project and task manager tools, so syncing and aligning between teams is easier and there is more transparency.

Who you are is what the company will be. When you see and experience it yourself, when you see it with your own eyes, you become super aware of yourself. The challenge is to understand that you have this responsibility and to take it with both hands and still stay genuine, authentic and approachable.

Avoidable leadership faux pas

Plan ahead before it’s too late: When it comes to fundraising, don’t wait until you are out of money. Plan and understand the money and the insights that your numbers provide. Funding helps with scaling opportunities, but it’s important to be agile and make sure that you don’t get to a point where you are pushed up against a wall. Give yourself more time than you think you need.

A structured communication plan helps avoid misunderstandings and distractions during very fragile times for a company. During a merger process, the combined company’s success should be perceived as synergy and should generate motivation for collaboration between the two. The communications plan facilitates this as it reaches and addresses each and every employee and shows them that they are valued and cared for. It’s priceless. Don’t overlook it.

Managers need to ensure that staff are aware of the overall focus and goals, it is your job to make sure that all teams are synced and aligned so they can join forces effectively. This ensures that they aren’t unknowingly investing their energy in projects that aren’t contributing to the focus of the company.

Finally, be able to facilitate different cultures in your company. Encourage transparency, compensate for mistakes you’ve made unknowingly – with good manners and communication skills – and be mindful about investing in both of these. Celebrate traditional holidays, festivals, foods and other traditional aspects that make a culture unique. Be open, enjoy getting to know and experience other cultures, and write yourself takeaways to remember different details about the culture. Enjoy the cultural differences so that others will want to be inclusive and keep themselves open-minded.

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