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Why start-ups require leadership from the outset

When dealing with large businesses, the sheer number of employees and the required level of collaboration between individuals and departments makes leadership structures a necessity. Identifying responsibility for tasks, operations and people is part of the fabric of the business; each level of the leadership must work seamlessly to ensure projects and employees receive the guidance and progression they require. Large businesses usually build leadership frameworks over many years, adding to them as the business expands and creating a robust management team.

This works very well for established businesses, but what happens with much smaller teams and start-ups? A typical start-up venture begins as an idea, either of an individual or a small group that identifies a gap in the market. When very small groups work together, it’s much easier to communicate and people tend to naturally take on and share all the necessary roles or responsibilities. This works fine until the success of the new company means an influx of new staff.

Trying to retrofit a leadership structure that works for individuals, teams, departments and the entire company can be very difficult. Individual employees may find they lose some autonomy or find that somebody within the company is more qualified for a role they previously enjoyed. Young companies never want to risk upsetting employees who were there from the start, especially if they have business-critical knowledge, but re-assigning workflows and overhauling operations has the potential to do just that. Suddenly implementing an unfamiliar leadership paradigm can be quite jarring and can cause problems with productivity and efficiency while it takes effect.

The ideal situation is to build up strong leadership skills and prepare a start-up for expansion during the first few years of its existence. Having such structures in place while the company is young not only allows them to be tested and refined to make sure they work, but also means that processes for authorisation, communication and feedback are established before the potential for misunderstanding occurs.

Gaining high quality leadership skills such as effective communication or the ability to objectively assess and solve problems may be at the top of every start-up CEO’s wish list, but most don’t want to step away from their new business venture to go back to university to train.

The good news is that the University of York have three 100% online Masters degrees in Leadership and Management, covering specialisms in Innovation, Finance and International Business. As all learning materials are delivered entirely online, there’s no need to be on campus; you can learn in the evenings, at weekends or whenever you have some spare time and you’ll earn the exact same qualification as on-campus students.

All courses are delivered on a pay-per-module basis, to remove the financial burden of large, up-front payments and there are six start dates throughout the year, allowing you to begin whenever you’re ready. You can continue to give your start-up the attention it needs in its formative years, continue to grow the business by applying what you learn as you learn and by preparing for future expansion.

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