In today's fast-paced business world, change is the only constant. Your company may start with a solid team and management structure, but things will inevitably shift and change. This can be both good and bad. On the one hand, it's exciting to see your company grow and change. But on the other hand, it can be challenging to manage a larger team or keep everyone aligned when the environment is in constant flux. So how do you approach leadership and team management in these fast-changing environments? We sat down with Daniil Pavliuchkov during his time as Head of Product Growth at TIER, to discuss this topic for our podcast episode - here are some tips to help you out.
About our podcast guest:
Daniil Pavliuchkov is the former Head of Product Growth at TIER and is currently the Head of Product Growth at Veed.io with a passion for product-led growth, product strategy, and b2c startups around Series A.
Understanding different leadership styles
“One of the biggest traps is that emerging leaders, or new leaders, continue to work as they did before in a fast-paced environment.” - Daniil Pavliuchkov, former Head of Product Growth at TIER
There are many different leadership styles, but which one is right for you? Do you want to be a commanding leader or a more hands-off approach? Do you value consensus over decisiveness? How do you find the right leadership style for your startup or team?
In Daniil’s opinion, the best way to start identifying different leadership styles is to understand what kind of leader you would like to be and what resonates with you. Daniil recommends starting by asking yourself:
- What type of leader would I like to be? Which leader inspires me?
- Which qualities can help me be productive and energetic?
- What are the things that I can start doing right now as a leader based on my worldview, experience, and feelings? It's a question of discovering your personal one, nurturing it, and aligning with it
Leading through change: figure out the best way to implement the organizational changes
For Daniil, it's important to remember that the leader is the person who unites and not separates. So when you’re in a leadership or management position, you must find two or three other people to come together with, like having allies with whom you can share ownership and responsibilities. They should be the evangelists and the communicators of this change. With your allies, you can develop a team dynamic by meeting regularly through the decision-making process and also have someone to take charge in case one is sick or on vacation.
“Everything that separates people is bad. It creates silos, miscommunication, distrust, and reduces transparency — this is what I try to avoid in leadership.”
So when you’re implementing organizational changes and motivating a team through change, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Pick your battles smart and try to change things that you can really reach and influence
A good example would be to fix something within your scope of influence on how your team works about your changes. Start smaller, and improve something locally. Multiple complexities exist in your space that could be with stakeholders, decision-making, how you hire people with your delivery, and how you prioritize. All of them exist on a different scale and grade — and you can pick something from that.
2. The role of clarity: people usually reject ideas or dislike changes when they're not involved, so be transparent
When leading through change, you should talk to other people. Include them and say, “Hey, what doesn't work for you?”. When you’re changing a process, you’re most likely not changing it for yourself but for others — and that's also a thing to remember about leadership: that the majority of your work is done for other people, be it to make their processes easier, their performance higher, and more. So it would help if you communicated with them, asked them questions, and merged them with your understanding and experience to find the best solution (through this two or three-people allyship).
A negative way to implement this would be to come out to your team and say, "Oh, this is what we've been working on for the last three months, and this is how things will be from now on."
3. Have regular check-ins for change to go gradually
Think of implementing change as MVPs and sprints. Every week you make a small change, you discuss it with the team, and say, “Hey team, this is what we are thinking about. This is the new change — let’s do that for the next one or two weeks, gather feedback, and then you can continue developing this further”.
“Gradual change is a great treat for the team because most people are scared of big changes.”
When the change is done gradually over time, it won’t feel like a change. It feels more like an adjustment, and it's much easier if you do that slowly, week by week, and so on. Daniil recommends involving people, being transparent, and doing this over time instead of in one batch. That way, people will most likely not resist.
Daniil also notes that if you, as a leader or management, is jumping above your role or scope of responsibilities, you would need to flip a coin or two coins to understand your chances. Maybe it's not going to be that easy to change things bigger than your scope right now. But this can also teach some level of humility.
How to prioritize between short-term and long-term goals
As a company or team leads, you're probably very focused on what's coming next and which short-term and long-term projects to prioritize — which could be both good and bad. Some people say the strategy is your roadmap. And we all have the same principles when being lean, agile, and so on, but when it comes to leadership, it's fascinating to see how people prioritize these in their respective departments.
“Strategy is an explanation of how things work and the bridge between the vision and the execution for people and companies.”
For example, when you consider a startup life cycle, it is essentially based on funding rounds. You have this 18 months runway, and then you start being influenced by the whole startup culture of being driven by MVPs or many other cultural weights behind startups. Some that would oftentimes get in the way of the fact that you're not trying to build a startup; you're trying to build a successful business.
Another classic one for startups or young companies to experience is that you want to have this long-term goal in mind and know where things are going, but at the same time, you have limited resources. So what is a good way to juggle this?
For Daniil, prioritizing short-term and long-term goals truly depends on your company's stage.
If your company is young or just entering the market
Short-term goals make all the difference because you either need to catch up to your competitors or reach the baseline with your functionality. You'll need to reach the baseline with the level of service and value you provide, and there's no way around it. So you should invest 90% or 100% in this direction — but remember that these things don't give you a market advantage; they give you a market baseline.
If you want to get market advantage/win the market
It would help if you started investing in the longer-term differentiators that genuinely set you apart in your respective space. You need to be the preference of your consumers or users. But your long-term goals won't come with 100% probability.
“I would say 60% of long-term goals will fail, but 40% of them will work out really well. And if you do them, you're going to have a big advantage over your competitors”, says Daniil.
“I think you should invest up to 40 to 50% of your time into longer-term bets because they will give you the biggest advantage.” - Daniil Pavliuchkov, former Head of Product Growth at TIER