The value of decisive leadership

As a seasoned entrepreneur, I give a lot of thought to advice and insights to share with aspiring entrepreneurs. I read a lot and sometimes come across something in industry publications that I save to share as a positive “how to” example. One such piece appeared last December in Business Insider: an e-mail exchange between Mitch Lasky, partner at Benchmark Capital, and Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat.

In their e-mail exchange, Lasky offers valuable advice to Spiegel on some important stuff, such as financing, hiring, and how to disseminate information to staff so that they’re not learning information from the nightly news. It’s a great exchange that illustrates a few key things, most especially the value of decisive leadership on Spiegel’s part.

Rather than go through the piece point-by-point, since much of it is self-evident, I highlight below what I think makes Spiegel stand out in this exchange and what aspiring entrepreneurs can draw from it as a lesson:

  • Spiegel articulates his position clearly with responses that are well thought-through, decisive, and to the point. He disagrees with some of Lasky’s advice, but, though Spiegel is firm on his points, he remains respectful. Maintaining a respectful tone in all business dealings is paramount and a way to garner more respect.
  • Spiegel is a step ahead of Lasky, his VC, on every bullet point – as Spiegel should be, for he is the one running the company. Spiegel listens to the advice and makes his decisions based on what he believes to be right for the business he is building. Leaders have to be decisive like that.
  • Spiegel focuses on the short-term while maintaining a long-term vision, and he shares his thinking on that clearly. He closes his note to Lasky with a reiteration of what he is focused on for clarity and emphasis. This is always a good way to end an important message, especially when it’s long.
  • Spiegel explains himself well throughout his reply. This is important. If a leader isn’t taking advice, especially from a VC who funded the company, they really do need to share why. Sharing his thought process in mature, determined, and confident tones assures Lasky and any other investor that he is in control of his company.

When I think of what good leadership looks like, it looks a lot like Spiegel’s leadership evidenced in that e-mail exchange: respectful, visionary, and decisive. These are traits any aspiring entrepreneur would be wise to embody as they lead.

What other traits do you think are important for leaders to keep in mind when leading a growing company?

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About Kira Makagon

Kira Makagon is a successful serial entrepreneur and tech industry leader. A graduate of UC Berkeley with both an undergraduate degree in computer science and an MBA, she enjoys sharing her lessons learned from being a veteran “only woman in the room.” Kira's recent awards and recognitions include the following: 2015 YWCA Silicon Valley Tribute to Women Award 2015 Golden Bridge Business and Innovation Awards Named to Silicon Valley Business Journal Women of Influence in 2015 Named to SF Business Times Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business for 2015 and 2016 2016 Bay Area CIO Awards finalist

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