The Alchemy Behind Startups with Sophie Theen

A lot of founders forget that being a great leader and a great manager are both important. But they tend to have this excuse that since they’re leaders, they don’t have to be great managers. 

Just as much as you need to show excellent leadership, you also need to be a great manager for the company to be successful. 

Sophie Theen, educator, speaker, and author of The Soul of Startups, points out that while a manager and a leader can have different descriptions, both are important attributes every founder should have.

The Difference Between the Manager and a Leader

As a manager:

  • You have to manage the day-to-day operations to make sure the company is running. It means giving directions on a daily basis, doing effective one-to-ones, asking for and giving feedback, etc.
  • People have built great processes, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel anymore. There are robust processes that other experts have already proven. So just get a template and apply that to your day-to-day life. Start practicing one-to-ones, ask great questions, and actively listen.

As a leader:

  • You should have an answer to most of the problems. You’re going to take charge and bring the company together with you. And so, if there’s going to be a challenge, you’re the first one to stand up. 
  • You’re the first one to show vulnerability. And you’re the first one to have more honest conversations with your employees. Vulnerability is a sign of strength.
  • You’re building out these great relationships. What you put out is also what you should expect to receive. Treat people the way that you want yourself to be treated in whatever circumstances or situation. Running a business is as simple as treating people right.

Sophie adds that founders need to shift the cultural mentality from “me” to “we.” When you understand that you’re no longer creating a business just for yourself and that the business is going to feed so many people, you are now creating a sustainable, and hopefully a good working environment for everybody in the company. 

If you want to learn more about the alchemy behind startups, check out

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