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Building Strong Leadership Teams in Startups Using Effective Collaboration

by Arthur Zuckerman

What do you need for your SaaS startup to be successful? Some might say a great product/service and marketing strategy. Others might say funding and professional partnerships. What about a strong, cohesive leadership team? 

Leaders are responsible for the most critical decisions in a startup that ultimately impact its direction and success. A leadership team that meshes well and brings the required skills to the table that drive effective collaboration is crucial if a startup is to last well beyond its first year.

Continue reading for more on how beneficial strong leadership teams are for new businesses and how to assemble one by focusing on specific skills and teamwork.

What A Strong Leadership Team Does for a New Startup

A new SaaS startup will fall just as quickly as it’s launched when it doesn’t have strong leadership in place.

The startup will lack a definitive business vision or plan to execute that vision. Critical decisions fall into the hands of incapable people. And there aren’t any systems to keep employees organized, happy, and focused on execution.

Successful startups prioritize building strong leadership teams from the very beginning because these individuals are the difference between thriving and failing. Good leaders ensure your startup’s foundation and team are strong enough to withstand the turbulence in today’s business landscape.

Start your business on a solid foundation

A product idea and website aren’t enough to secure a business’s success. Launching a startup is a detailed process that includes:

  • Developing a product concept and service model
  • Finding funding
  • Creating a business plan
  • Hiring a team with a solid recruitment plan
  • Crafting a launch and overall marketing strategy
  • Conducting market and target audience research
  • Handling business logistics like getting any licenses and permits

Solid leaders understand how much goes into starting a business. So, they’re sure to develop a strategic plan that addresses all of the above before launching the business to improve its chances of being successful.

They’ll then rely on their specific skill sets to ready their team and ensure the plan is executed properly.

Foster open communication

Strong leaders are great communicators. They take it upon themselves to learn their employees’ communication preferences and practices to make it easier to connect with and get the best work from them.

In addition, a powerful leadership team embraces open and honest communication at all times. When employees are comfortable enough to talk to each other and their leadership team without holding back, you can solve problems faster. Innovation is also free-flowing in the workplace, giving you a leg up on the competition.

Get the best from your team

Leaders are responsible for taking care of their team. They’re directly involved in how happy and productive they are in the workplace.

Recent leadership statistics revealed that “Trust in leaders is the highest-ranked link to employee engagement at 77%. It’s even higher than traditional motivators like organizational culture (73%) or opportunities for career growth (66%).”

Leaders who care more about results than team well-being are the ones constantly cycling through burnt-out employees and experiencing little to no business results.

On the other hand, strong leaders prioritize the health, well-being, and safety of their teams, resulting in high productivity, morale, and engagement.

For example, a good leader is always working to keep their new business and team safe in-person and online.

When it comes to the latter, employing high-quality cybersecurity solutions, like network monitoring tools, supports a secure online presence. Network monitoring gives you complete visibility into your IT infrastructure, from collaboration tools and software to your devices, helping you identify any vulnerabilities before they affect your team and online operation.

Instead of being stressed and worried, this attention to online security helps your team to feel safe conducting business in the digital world.

Drive organizational collaboration

Startups are most effective when everyone is working diligently as a unit toward the overall business vision. But getting employees to do this is easier said than done. It’s difficult getting a diverse group of people to work together effectively and respectfully.

That’s where a strong leadership team comes in to save the day. One of the best things a strong leadership team can do is drive organizational collaboration. Of course, some employees will naturally gravitate toward and work with each other.

However, to get beyond cliques in the workplace and on to the entire startup working together as a team across departments, leaders have to step in and make it a part of the company’s core. It needs to be embedded in the culture and a part of the everyday.

A strong leadership team makes this happen by first leading by example. They jump in where they’re needed and communicate constantly with employees at all levels. Then, the entire company will be more likely to adhere to the collaboration expectations set by leadership because they’re actually doing it too.

How Can You Build a Strong Cohesive Leadership Team Using Effective Collaboration?

Effective collaboration inspires interdepartmental communication and teamwork that elevates a business. But it’s also a great tool for building your leadership team.

The keyword there is “team.” You’ll have multiple leaders heading different departments in your startup. So much of what they do will overlap with each other. And the decisions they make for their respective departments will impact the others.

When leaders collaborate well with each other, they’re more likely to make choices that consider every department, even including them in the decision-making process.

Encourage your leaders to not just focus on fueling collaboration among lower-level employees, but to also concentrate on effective collaboration among each other. Call meetings for your leadership suite regularly. Make sure every leader’s voice is heard in these gatherings.

Do as many cross-departmental projects as possible in your startup. Choose which departments will work together based on the relationships the leaders have. So, if two leaders are struggling to form a positive working relationship, put their departments on a project together so they have a chance to keep working at it.

Team-building activities will help strengthen teamwork and communication among your leadership team as well. Just as you get all your employees together to build coworker bonds, get your leadership suite together to participate in activities that help them do the same.

Skills Leaders Need to Initiate Collaboration and Cohesive Leadership

Aside from the external activities that facilitate collaboration and build a cohesive leadership team, it also helps if your leaders have skills and internal qualities that help them be effective leaders, communicators, and collaborators.

If you require these abilities and talents in every leader you bring on to your startup’s leadership team, not only will they have the capacity to work well with others themselves, but they’ll also be able to inspire teamwork across the entire company.

Examples of skills that will help build collaboration and cohesive leadership into the core of your startup include: 

  • Motivator: coming down on people who aren’t meeting expectations won’t inspire them to want to do better, let alone be comfortable enough to ask for help and lean on collaboration. Motivate these individuals with positive reinforcement and guidance instead, and they’ll become the team contributors you want them to be. 
  • Exceptional listener: communication is critical for effective collaboration. The best communicators are exceptional listeners. Look for leaders who are adept at active listening because they’ll be the best at putting teams together and delegating tasks. 
  • Confident decision-maker: Leaders make a lot of decisions in your startup that directly impact its success. Whether they’re choosing who’s working together, signing off on a project, or making another crucial decision, they need to be confident in their choices. 

These are just a handful of leadership skills that will facilitate effective collaboration. At a minimum, look for these skills in your leadership candidates to ensure you’re building a strong leadership team.


Your SaaS startup’s success depends so much on its leadership. Without good leaders, your startup’s foundation, team, and culture will suffer. Look for the right skills in leadership candidates and rely on effective collaboration to build your strong leadership team.

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