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10 types of startup CEOs you should avoid at all costs

Maryam Dodhy Written by Maryam Dodhy · 3 min read>

The foundation of a successful startup lies in strong leadership: someone who has the perseverance to build a company from the ground up and possesses the necessary skills and knowledge that can ensure a startup to excel. Naturally, an employee will want to work for someone who knows what they are doing, especially if it’s a startup. Choosing to work for a new startup is a risk on its own, imagine if your employer turns out to be someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing or someone who constantly belittles their employees. Here we round up the 10 types of startup CEO’s you should try to avoid!

1. The Weaklings

Choosing to work for a new startup is a huge leap of faith because you never know if it’s going to be successful or not. On top of that you wouldn’t want to end up working for someone who is weak of nerve. Lifting a startup from the ground up requires a lot of patience and commitment, there is a lot of competition and many hurdles along the way. Your job would be in jeopardy if your boss cannot take a stand for the startup and is ready to give it up whenever the circumstances seem unfavorable.

2. The Narcissists

Self-centered, conceited bosses are the worst because they won’t give you the proper space to grow and learn. Imagine if you’re a fresh graduate looking for new experiences and a friendly work environment, a narcissistic CEO should be avoided at all costs. Narcissists have no empathy for their employees, they treat you like you’re indispensable and your efforts are never acknowledged no matter how hard you work. Any suggestions you make will probably land you on their hit list and the office will always be a blame game zone. The sooner you find out the better!

3. The Newbies

New CEO’s are often still getting the hang of things, most of them are not experienced and don’t know how to get work done. A new startup CEO more often than not also happens to be the co-founder of the startup and their main focus is to make as much money as possible. You will unwillingly come under the grind and there won’t be as much reward for the effort you put in your work. Moreover, if you’re applying for your first job make sure it is under an experienced CEO. They offer better guidance and have gathered more wisdom over the years which will help you over the course of time.

4. The All Talk, No Work

These CEO’s will leave you hanging in the dark with piles of work that you don’t know how to complete. A CEO is a torch bearer of the startup, he leads his people by example and guides them with their work. This type loves to play the blame game, puts their priorities at the top and spends more time discussing how to solve a problem rather than actually solving it. A startup with such a CEO is most definitely going downhill. Save yourself while you can!

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5. The Merciless

The Merciless are closely related to The Narcissists. They love to constantly keep their employees under the grind, not letting them have a sigh of relaxation and they have absolutely null empathy for their people. When you start working you should choose a friendly work environment; a job that is draining you mentally and physically will leave little room for growth. Having said this, professional jobs are competitive and you will be required to toughen up and bear the brunt sometimes!

6. The Secretive Kind

Let’s just establish a fact here that all CEO’s keep secrets from their employees. Not everyone in a firm knows what’s going on in the top layer, and that’s good because often it only creates a situation of panic among the employees. However, startup CEO’s who are secretive are unwillingly doing harm to their own startup. Being secretive will only generate a hostile environment. They don’t open up about problems that the startup is facing which puts at a disadvantage of not being able to make a decision. They’ll be tight lipped and keep the tips and tricks that they’ve learned to themselves, not letting you progress.

7. The Distracted Kind

There can only be two reasons why a startup CEO is distracted: they either suffer from ADHD or there are some internal problems going on. The first one is highly unlikely. So what problems can a startup be facing? The inability to find funding, the startup isn’t making enough money to pay off investors or their employees. The result is a distracted CEO, who might as well be looking for opportunities elsewhere. Like I said before, raising a startup from the ground requires a lot of patience and the ability to make good decisions.

8. The Dismissive Kind

Of course, your boss won’t agree upon all the suggestions you make but a completely dismissive behavior is very self-destructive. Employees often come up with good solutions and CEO’s should listen to them. Being inconsiderate is toxic to the work environment and will make you feel unappreciated. This behavior is counter-productive in the long run.

See Also: 8 lessons Pakistani Entrepreneurs can learn from the hit TV show, Silicon Valley

9. The Slow Adapters

Successful startups grow rapidly and CEO’s who act clueless and conservative are putting their startup at a risk. A lack of knowledge and unawareness from the leader can cause employees to quickly lose trust. A good CEO should have a good grasp on the situation and in which direction to take the startup. Young businesses have a lot of competition and a leader who doesn’t have the right vision to lead is in trouble!

10. The Corporate CEO

Usually, people who have worked in established companies try to run a startup like corporations. There’s a fine line between a corporate firm and a startup. A startup has no hard and fast rules and people mostly join it because of their passion and lust to gain different experiences. Running a startup like a corporation makes employees loose interest. So if you’re looking to follow your passion then avoid a CEO with a corporate mindset!

Written by Maryam Dodhy
I love bringing to light stories of extraordinary people working in Pakistan's tech and startup industry. You can reach out to me through Profile