This is part of an ongoing series of posts by our Entrepreneur in Residence, Kosta Ligris, focused on guidance for the student teams taking part in our MIT delta v accelerator.
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”
Rosalynn Carter (former U.S. First Lady)
There is an intensity in the Trust Center this week. You can feel it in the air … teams working on product, some of them still reflecting on the feedback from the first Board Meeting, and some already pivoting in one way or another. This is all good and part of the process, but focus is key, especially now. Time is precious and it’s time for founders and CEOs to get serious about leadership and getting shit done.
Trish Cotter and I have a $100 bet on whether one of our teams will have an operational product by Friday. I’ve taken the side of “no.” Trish is betting big on the team … and I want her to win.
Why? Why would I want to lose $100? Because leadership is about getting uncomfortable, taking risks, and, more often than not, failing. Failure is another word for learning; get the lesson, preach it to the team, and move on! Do you think that Tom Brady obsesses over every pass? Maybe … but it doesn’t define him or the game. What went wrong with the last pass? Learn from it, adjust, and get back to the game.
“If you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, you don’t branch out, you don’t try – you don’t take the risk.”
Strong leadership is taking your team to the danger zone where they get uncomfortable in a safe environment. (See Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable). Trish and I may have decided to put this one particular team on the spot this week and gamify the process, but this applies to each and every team in the cohort.
To the founders and CEOs: step up, and don’t take your foot off the gas.
Check out “8 Essential Qualities That Define Great Leadership” or perhaps Tony Robbin’s 6 Basic Leadership Qualities. I’m critical of some of this stuff, but I can tell you from experience that decisiveness is critical. A good leader makes decisions and lives with the consequences. Nobody wants to work for someone that can’t make decisions; it doesn’t matter if they are wrong. People will respect the decisiveness, right or wrong. Teams need leaders that aren’t afraid to decide, fail, learn, and do it all over again.
“You have to have the confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.”
Keep the intensity going; push each other and get after it. Be bold, be decisive, and learn from mistakes and failures. Don’t hesitate; all you are doing is wasting time.
None of this year’s delta v teams are safe from my criticism or gamification. I’ll push all of them to be the best versions possible and experiment. I challenge all of you to hold each other accountable. Everyone needs to be a hustler now – and if you are playing it safe and sluggish – be warned … I’ll bet against you too!