Strong Leadership vs Strong Product

In the world of high-risk high-reward tech entrepreneurship, people and money are often drawn to the appeal of a strong product. The right product for the right problem, in the right market at the right time, can mean big-time gains for entrepreneurs and their backers. Undoubtedly, having a strong product is critical to the success of a startup. That being said, let me tell you why strong leadership gives you a better shot at sustainable success than strong product.

Many a company stumble into success because of freak convergences of factors. Sudden changes in the marketplace or viral social exposure, for example, can often thrust mediocre entrepreneurs into the spotlight where they are the only game in town and thus capture market-share with their relatively strong product. This sudden success can give startups the illusion that they are poised for hyper-growth. However, companies with weak leadership will find themselves eventually plateauing and losing ground as competition catches up.

Why does this happen? Well, the absence of strong leadership can cause a constant diminishing effect on the product. It often results in a lack of efficient processes and a disregard for data-driven product decisions. It could also breed difficulty in building a culture of trust amongst members of the product development team that will undoubtedly manifest itself in the product. Companies that were supposedly poised for hyper-growth will find themselves stuck, spinning their wheels, unable to innovate and reach their true potential.

Strong leadership, on the other hand, has the ability to take a relatively weaker product and have a constant strengthening effect on it. Strong product leaders understand and respect the voice of the customer and seek to amplify it at every turn. Even though they are often blessed with an eye for product-design and strong business acumen, they take a beginner’s mind and allow data to conclusively validate key hypotheses. They have the uncanny ability to take a mediocre product and make it a strong product over time by establishing efficient processes and cultivating a culture of trust for their team members which enables them to get the best out of everyone. Essentially, a weak product in the hands of strong leadership will rarely remain a weak product.

The world of high-risk high-reward tech entrepreneurship can often feel like a sprint, but it’s actually a marathon, and strong leadership will always win out over temporarily-strong products.

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