Smartly dressed woman sitting at desk
Kitty Harris
Friday, May 21, 2021
3 min read

Top 4 traits of a successful startup CEO

Being the CEO of a startup is plain difficult. You have to build an idea from scratch, recruit a team, and potentially secure investment all whilst learning and adapting as you go. Fundamental to the success of a startup is the management of its team and the levels of productivity it can attain. Therefore, a crucial element of a startup is the reliability and capability of its CEO. And if you are a graduate looking to work in a startup, then watch out for these traits at your interview for a guaranteed great employer!

1. Leadership
The top trait of a successful CEO will always be their ability to lead others through alternating periods of victory and despair. Managing a team well means refusing to lose your head when things don’t go as expected (a lot of the time at a startup), and staying calm in the face of sudden stressors (again, a lot of the time). Another quality of a good leader is the ability to firmly say ‘no’ – while every request from investors, consumers, and employees might sound appealing, a determined CEO will select the most important, and act on those alone.

2. Ability to stay focused
There should always be an overarching vision for the company that a CEO must remain unrelentingly focused on. It can be tempting to hone in on one part of the business and solely work on that, but keeping in mind the aims of the company as a whole will ensure that everything increases evenly. While rapid growth is a common characteristic of a startup, there is a lot to be said for being able to see the long-term aims and using that to ride through periods of uncertainty.


3. Unconventional
There is a reason that a CEO is a CEO and not another employee. In the world of startups there is constant pressure to be unique and innovative – and how would that be possible if your CEO is exceptionally ordinary? Being able to think differently and see situations in an alternative light will differentiate a person that leads a business to success, from one that captains a sinking ship.

4. Motivational
A startup is only as good as the ideas and actions of its team, without them there is simply a plan. Seeing where the weaknesses lie and being able to transform these into strengths will come from a deep desire to bring out the best in people. The key to getting past pitfalls in any business is to keep the team focused on the positives and feeling as though their input will take the company to its next success. Company morale is not to be neglected.

BrighterBox is a platform to connect amazing startups with the brightest graduates. Search ‘BrighterBox jobs’.


*Editor's note: This blog was originally published in 2016 and has since been updated.



Add new comment

Graduate Jobs