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How To Handle Clashing Personalities On Your New Leadership Team

Source | FastCompany : By BARRY S. SALTZMAN

Picture this: You’re an entrepreneur ready to get your startup off the ground, and you have just the right people in mind to build your team. A friend of yours, a former CEO at a publicly traded company, has agreed to be a partner. Another friend, also a former executive, is excited to sit on your board.

Before you know it, you’ve got a team of former execs on your hands, and you’re beginning to wonder how they’re all going to get along when none of them is the sole person in the driver’s seat.


A lot goes into building the perfect leadership team for a startup. You want someone who’s motivated and doesn’t let the small failures discourage them. You want someone who has the resources to commit to your business for the long term. You may also want someone with past entrepreneurial or leadership experience and knows what it takes to run a successful enterprise.

It would be great if everyone you bring on board checks off all of these boxes equally, but that’s far from likely. Instead, chances are that each of your new partners covers one or two of your bases and not others. And that’s just when it comes to experience, not personality.

All this is fine—even if it does mean your team ends up looking like a mishmash of former executives and C-level managers. The truth is that having a variety of backgrounds and experiences in different industries can be an asset. And while it’s sometimes a bad idea to hire too many people with executive experience into rigid corporations, seasoned employees who can fulfill a multitude of business roles can generally give a huge boost to a startup.

“The most successful businesses result from the marriage of different skills, backgrounds, and personalities,” Jon Smith, CEO of Pobble, tells me. “You’ll have different opinions and ideas. However, invariably, those are the tough conversations that catapult you forward.”


But just because an employee used to be in the C-suite at their old job doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed the same position in your startup. Making that transition isn’t always easy. As the founder, you face a big challenge you might not have counted on: To get your very first handful of employees—your startup’s leadership team—to work with you, not for or against you. Setting the tone and ensuring your whole team is on board with your vision and business concept is the prerequisite for getting anything done together.

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