Can the larger, traditional organisations learn from the leadership styles inherent in dot-coms? Liz Simpson believes they can
Regardless of whether it's a sales, administrative or technical position they are trying to fill, lastminute.com looks beyond a candidate's specialist knowledge and experience.
The company that helps Internet surfers find spontaneous, romantic and adventurous things to do, looks for certain personal characteristics in its staff - like passion, self-motivation, having a can-do attitude and "willingness to go beyond the call of duty". These are qualities that all companies presumably want, but which dot-coms have been more successful than most in attracting. The good news is that given the open-mindedness and willingness to do so, larger, more traditional companies can learn from the leadership styles inherent in successful dot-com CEOs and start-up entrepreneurs such as Amazon's Geoff Bezos and lastminute.com's Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman.
Check out Amazon's Web sites in the UK and the US and you'll find thousands of books on the subjects of leadership and unleashing creativity in employees. Cut through all the rhetoric and you'll discover that both topics depend on three key principles:
- Find the right people
- Show them how good they are
- Then get out of their way.
It is in these areas that dot-commers can teach traditionally oriented businesses a thing or two. After all, many were set up by individuals with little or no experience of the business world and therefore are not limited by mental constraints of how things "should be".
Find the right people
A management recruiter for 25 years, working near California's Silicon Valley, Tom Thrower of Management Recruiters International says the most important advice he would give any manager is to surround yourself with people you like, who are fun to work with and inspire mutual caring. This is true of dot-coms, where founders would fish in a relatively small pool of people for those they had either liked working with in the past or whose reputation was known to them.
"Early-stage entrepreneurs know their employees' motivations in depth, rather