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Do investors realize the need for coaching entrepreneurs in leadership skills?

My experience as an angel investor shows that more start ups fail for want of leadership skills in people engagement, team building, co-creating vision, collaborating action and leading change than due to product and investment. Do investors recommend leadership coaching to start up entrepreneurs to increase success rates?

15 Replies

Scott Milburn
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Scott Milburn Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurial Senior Executive and Attorney
Ram, you are correct that a significant portion of the high percentage of failures of promising startups are the result of entrepreneurs who lack business skills/experience, but who are not sufficiently aware of their limitations in those areas to bring on people who can provide that expertise and experience. VCs will often insist on adding management with business experience, but angels, unfortunately, will rarely recognize and/or require that added skillset.
Joe Albano, PhD
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Joe Albano, PhD Advisor
Using the business of entrepreneurialism to turn ideas into products and products into sustainable businesses.
One challenge is that funders will often believe that they will provide the coaching and support needed to develop leadership and ensure success. After all, they are the people who were successful enough to have the funds to invest.

Coaching and development are still seen by many as unnecessary, expensive, and luxuries ... how do we shift that perspective?
Ankita Tyagi
2
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Ankita Tyagi Entrepreneur
Director, Financial Services at Attivio
Ram- Thank you for raising this question.Very opportune. Scott and Joe - Thank you for your feedback.
I am very much in this boat right now. I am an aspiring entrepreneur, have tremendous motivation and have a fairly level-headed approach to things. I am not saying all this so as to tout my own horn....as most entrepreneurs (or those who aspire to be) have these traits but what I do know is that I still need guidance. Actual business related guidance (financial projections, strategic partnerships, etc.) and just basic "business" sense and a lot of it. Its not just about bringing skilled workforce together and assigning them with an individual task, but I too as an individual need to be guided by those who've done this before. Yet, I dont want to lose my individuality - as that intangible factor is the essence of my entrepreneurial endeavor. My biggest challenge has been in finding a leadership / business mentor who guides based on style / preference and steps in when needed, steps away when not. I assume this is a reasonable request or is this a selfish way to look at things?

I understand that your opinion might be just your's but curious to see what you all think.
Also, in your opinion, what makes an aspiring entrepreneur uncoachable?

Bonnie Lai
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Bonnie Lai Entrepreneur • Advisor
Past Founder . #500Alum . Startups
Leadership is a sensitive subject. Many people think they have great leadership skills without realising the one thing blocking them is themselves. Small wins like raising a small investment, hearing a praise, or admiration from friends, are self-validations that they are doing great. They tune out things they don't want tohear,or are not ready to learn important life skills.

Founders, particularly young males, are especially prone to this. It's not unusual to find ego-driven founders basking in short-term glory while losing sight of the important things that truly matter in the long term. Given the hubris, there comes the question if coaching would be well accepted or brushed aside as an 'inconvenient crap' they just had to listen to? I've seen my own co-founder step out of advisor meeting, and say 'that was a waste of time,' when the advisor's words were clearly solid information to digest.


Maybe the better question would be, why do investors not do more due diligence and invest in the companies with great leadership teams? They may be harder to find since real leaders are not out there flaunting their micro-successes. But they would be worth the effort.

This subject hits a personal chord. It's exactly why I chose to leave the startup I gave everything I had to build.

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes but never as bossy egomaniacs.
Bill Warner
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Bill Warner Entrepreneur
Managing Partner of Paladin and Associates
Investors want to see solid management at the onset. Sure, leadership coaching is fine, but at an advanced level for an already competent management team. If the team is weak, investors will insist on a change or simply pass on the deal. I suggest you approach investors with a dynamite management team with the ability to accomplish the business plan. If you don't, you will lose out to businesses that do.
Joe Albano, PhD
0
0
Joe Albano, PhD Advisor
Using the business of entrepreneurialism to turn ideas into products and products into sustainable businesses.
Ankita Tyagi- if you Google "coachability" you can find some excellent ... and some not so good ... instruments designed to identify issues that make the coaching relationship difficult and unpredictable. In my experience a lot of it comes down to a willingness to be introspective and examine the influence and accountability that they have in any situation. I've long said that I could make a lot more as a "coach" if my practice focused on giving clients reasons that their failures are not their fault. I choose to focus not blame, but rather on the behaviors that will increase everyone's level of success.

Bonnie Lai- yes, many (most?) people ... especially young, male entrepreneurs ... believe that they are great leaders.The reality is that most people are great leaders if the measure is "what kind of leader do you (the leader) want to be lead by?" -- EFFECTIVE leadership is becoming the kind of leader that the team that you have and are recruiting want and need.
Joe Albano, PhD
0
1
Joe Albano, PhD Advisor
Using the business of entrepreneurialism to turn ideas into products and products into sustainable businesses.
Bill Warner- This is exactly the belief system that I wasreferringto in my first post. If coaching is seen as a sign of leadership weakness, then there is a different problem that needs to beaddressed. Both Eric Schmidt and Bill Gates are on record as saying "effective leaders NEED a coach . . . and I have have one" . . . Ibelievetheir leadership capabilities have been well established.
Ram S. Ramanathan PCC, BCC
0
1
Leadership Coach and Mentor @ Coacharya
Many coaches may disagree, and I have never found a client not coachable; the coach may have a problem coaching the client. I also believe and know that in every one of us there is a leader; all we need is to find a common paradigm of moving out of our inner restraints to be of value to others.

Ankita: You never should need to lose your individuality, and no coach should make you dependent. Both are against coaching ethics. Coach's job is to make you more powerful.

Bonnie: the main objective of coaching is to create the awareness within to be rid of the inner barriers.

Most start up entrepreneurs are too busy chasing externals to be even aware they need help to discover what they really want. If investors are so intelligent, why don't they succeed with each investment they make? Why don't they realise that people in whom they invest need to be self and socially aware?
Mark Talaba
0
1
Mark Talaba Entrepreneur
Founder, Vision Former, serial entrepreneur
New technology (Teamability(R)) that is based on concepts from physics and systems theory adds new information about the nature of teamwork, and how to optimize team performance. If you think of Leadership as a particular kind of 'teaming', and just one of several very different kinds of teaming, it becomes easy to align people with job responsibilities that they will take to naturally and do well. It also becomes possible to 'design' teams for success by matching the teaming qualities of team members to the mission of the team. A TEDx Talk by the co-creator explains much more:bit.ly/DrJTEDx
Scott Milburn
1
0
Scott Milburn Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurial Senior Executive and Attorney

I have worked with many entrepreneurs as part of the senior management team. Where I have seen the biggest issue is a founder/CEO who lacks the self awareness to recognize their strengths and weaknesses. E.g., just because you are a smart scientist or engineer does not make you a smart business person. Someone who is aware of that is usually open to coaching or bringing on team members who fill the gaps in the founder's strengths. Someone who believes that because they had a success or they are a smart scientist means they are smart at everything will resist or ignore guidance and not seek team members to fill the gaps.

For example, I am both an entrepreneurial business exec and an attorney. I was serving as part time COO of a small startup that got into a dispute with a contract engineering support firm over the quality of work done. Basically it came down to negotiating a contract dispute. You would think the CEO/engineer just might listen to his COO/lawyer about how to best negotiate a legal dispute, but no, he totally ignored my advice and agreed to pay the vendor substantiallymore than necessary, to the serious detriment of his company.

We all have strengths and areas where we are less capable.. The smart entrepreneur recognizes how to seek coaching or bring on support to ensure those areas where he/she is not as effective get handled in the best manner possible.

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