It’s always your job to inspire the team. But, even more so once the team grows just large enough (20+?) that you don’t actually have to do everything yourself anymore. As you add your first VPs, build out that sales and success team, it’s a natural time to step back from some of the minutiae. Which you should.
But make sure you still do enough. Some ideas in each functional area:
- Sales: Be there for any big deal the team needs. Be the last to leave on the last day of the month and quarter. Make sure everyone in the company knows about every deal, and that each one is a team victory. Not just something salespeople do. Ask everyone on the sales team that you can, how you can help, at least on bigger deals. And mean it.
- PR and marketing: Get the company on TV and in print and in blogs and as many good places as you can. No one really watches most tech TV and a TechCrunch piece doesn’t last long. They don’t get you lots of leads. But the team loves it. They want to be part of a winner.
- Product: File the most bugs. Own a feature in each release. Integrate the product team into on-site customer meetings. Integrate the product team into partnerships. Get the product team 100% integrated with customers. Not just building charts and managing internal stuff. Make them responsible for customer happiness and give them ownership when they achieve it.
- Be more transparent. You don’t have to be Buffer. And don’t let them see you sweat too much. But be more transparent. Share all the metrics. More often, and more quickly. Send out a Flash Report on sales the evening of the last day of the month. Make sure everyone knows 99% of the metrics your investors do, at a minimum. Reuse your board decks at your company meetings.
- Say thank you. This almost always works. Call out whomever has done a great job. Call out fewer VPs, and more ICs. And it’s totally OK to give them a nice dinner gift certificate, or weekend, or small bonus, or whatever too.
- Spend more time with the customers, not just the prospects. When people see the CEO out with the customers they have worked so hard to close, onboard, support, and retain … it sends the right message. When the CEO doesn’t really engage post-sale … why would anyone else?
- Be the #1 champion. Lost a big deal? The team needs to know if anyone’s to blame — it’s you first and most. Which it is. Big feature gaps? Yes, everyone needs to know this. But they also clearly need to know why we win deals today, not just why we lose them. Stand up for your company. But don’t subtweet or be passive-aggressive. Only do it in a 100% positive way.
- Be the CEO you always wanted to work for. Just do this. Every day. Treat your team, your customers, your partners, your everything, the way you always wanted to be treated. This will have a huge impact over time. Most start-up CEOs don’t do this.