Today, I welcome Daniel Osmer who founded Spectrum in London in 2001 to provide professional, dedicated, authentic, retained board & executive search advice – and results. Spectrum is a boutique firm that also delivers a range of related HR specialist services, in addition to their core search work (https://spectrum-ehcs.com/). Clients are typically venture capital and private equity backed, growth stage, technology enabled businesses.
In this interview, I have asked Daniel to provide his perspective about the main challenges for tech entrepreneurs, finding and hiring best talents and how to develop their own leadership.
Based on your significant experience of working with tech founders and executives, what do you think are the main challenges they face in growing their businesses?
Entrepreneurs face a multitude of really significant challenges in successfully growing their organisations.
Obtaining funding on the right terms, attracting and retaining talent, technology development, business model optimisation, product-market fit, and customer acquisition are all essential ingredients to get right.
Leaders are well aware that building an A-team is paramount to success, but they don’t have necessarily either the experience or the skillset to hire the best talent. What advice would you give them on this matter?
I wouldn’t say that all leaders recognise the importance of this, as many do not, and in some cases, investors also may not attach as much significance to the leadership team composition and quality as they should. My advice would be to consider hiring an operationally experienced Non-Executive Chair, who should be able to lend their considerable experience to support founders with all their strategic decisions.
With specific regard to leadership team recruitment, founders can engage HR advisors to assist with the process and/or retain a quality boutique executive search firm who will guide and coach the founders through the whole process.
You are often involved from a very early stage with tech founders and leaders, and you see them growing as individuals – as well as their businesses. What do you think about their leadership development, and what are the main challenges for them to become successful as leaders?
Founders are treading the path less travelled, and it is both lonely and extremely demanding being an entrepreneur. Some entrepreneurs have a great idea and a lot of talent, but are commercially, managerially and operationally inexperienced. A trusted mentor, informal coach, and confidant can be extremely valuable – someone who you have chemistry with and whom you respect. This role can also be performed by the right Non-Executive Chair. As the business begins to mature and develop, invest in light touch management development: this will help the individuals, but also optimise the performance of the leadership team. Good leadership is primarily about great communications internally and externally.
I recently spoke at the Tech Leaders Summit about building and sustaining a high-performing culture in technology organisations. Given that employee engagement is still a big issue across the globe, what do you think tech leaders can do better to build a very engaged and high-performing teams?
The buzzword right now is that businesses must have a clear sense of ‘purpose’ to attract and retain high quality people. But the basics still apply: respect staff, reward them fairly, value work: life balance, and recognise and celebrate the achievements of individuals and teams. Agree, document and communicate company values that develop the right behaviours. Great employee engagement is definitely not about having ping pong tables in the office!
Thank you so much Daniel. This was very insightful.
Strategic and Leadership Advisor, Executive Coach