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My early experiences with leadership

Mathijs Vreeman
November 5, 2018

Doing leadership the right way is important and challenging in every organization. Especially in a young company like mine. My leadership experience is limited so I get the opportunity to learn a lot but also to mess up a lot. I will share some observations from my experiences so far.

More into building a decentralized internet than leadership

Mission, vision, core values help making decisions
Big and small decisions need to be made every day and those decisions will define the organization going forward. I am the sole founder of the company so there are no co-founders discuss with. Of course there is advice from others but in the end it’s always my call and my responsibility.

I found it very helpful to define the mission, vision and core values for the organization early on. When in doubt I ask myself if a decision is in line with those. That has made the decision making process easier more than once.

Micro management is bad
There is no space for micro management in a growing company. It takes time, it is boring and it basically is a symptom of not being able to let go or to trust your people. You have hired them to do a job, so let them do the job. Also, micro management makes growth more difficult as it consumes your valuable time.

I myself have taken the path of micro management in a situation of distrust with a team member. Lesson learned: never again. Next time I will put my energy in re-building that trust. It will also take time, it will require some serious talking and success is not guaranteed, but once a situation of trust is (re-)established it will be very beneficial for the culture and performance of the whole team.

Sharing leadership is great
It gives me great joy to see team members taking the lead in team efforts or in processes that involve clients. Because it is more effictive, easier and also results in better quality because lines of communication are shorter. I trust the team to do what’s right and to involve me if needed. And every intelligent human being loves an autonomous way of working. In Lightbase anyone can take the lead in a task or process if that fits their ambition and skillset and that works very well so far.

Don’t hesitate to get back on decisions
In Lightbase, every decision can be challenged and one should accept that it can lead to you having to come back on that decision. For example because you did not fully foresee it’s consequences or because a colleague suggested a better alternative.

Clarity vs. authority
If a decision has been challenged and you still have your reasons to stick with it, you should explain clearly why you do so. Refer to the organization’s mission, vision or core values when applicable. It is possible that a team member still disagrees and it then comes down to professionalism and respect to deal with it anyway. For you as leader, it is a matter of being clear and open about acting in line with the organization’s goals and ways and that should not be confused with authoritarian behaviour.

If this is a recurring situation for a specific team member, you should have a talk to see if he or she is still aligned with the mission, vision and core values of the the organization.

Management schmanagement
I try to keep management tasks to an absolute minimum in Lightbase and am dedicated to keep it that way towards the future. That will result in some interesting challenges down the road, but I’m actually looking forward to finding our way with it.

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