Over the last several weeks, we have been sharing some concepts for leaders considering making a transition from a large company to building the next chapter of their career in a smaller, early-stage venture.
Leaders who have built an effective set of skills while working for a large company are needed in the early-stage to help bring innovations forward in the market. The risk of all of us being “Amazoned” in the not-too-distant future is real. Being on the forward edge of innovation in the early-stage is one way to stay ahead of the threat of becoming extinct as marketplaces become more efficient in serving customers.
The focus for today’s topic is on the importance of building a strong network of leaders and mentors who are active in the early-stage marketplace.
Successful leaders in large companies have often spent considerable time throughout their careers navigating internal power and political networks as an essential component of managing a career. We all would like to think that performance alone can support a thriving career but the reality within large companies is that there are often a few power struggles and some politics that can be a part of even the best talent management programs.
The typical large company leaders thinking about making a transition into the early-stage have been so focused on managing the internal machine of their large company that they have spent little time cultivating a broad network beyond the four walls of their current business unit.
As leaders desire to make an effective transition from large companies to early-stage companies, they need to be much more intentional and proactive about getting well networked in targeted areas of interest. They must do the homework to understand what leading venture capital firms are funding to see some early trends on the next wave of innovation. Leaders can follow the flow of money into these early-stage ventures to find the major trends. To be direct, this means spending time tracking the large venture capital companies and their investments, not the latest leadership guru’s advice on how to be a more “authentic” leader.
There are numerous ways for large company leaders to take some small, but meaning steps to expand their networks.
- Most of the world’s leading venture capital companies publish regularly on emerging trends and growing companies that can be a great source of learning. Firms like A16Z , RA Capital and NEA are just a few.
- Leveraging a platform like LinkedIn to follow and build a network of leaders in early-stage companies of interest is an efficient way to start expanding networks.
- Spending one’s own time and money to attend conferences geared towards early-stage innovation is another way to build a relevant network outside of a large company.
Strong leadership is needed in the early-stage marketplace and leaders from large companies have the skills and experience to create great value at the forward edge of innovation. As we look to build and strengthen our leadership over a long-term career journey, the early-stage market provides a wonderful environment for leaders to learn, grow, and bring world-leading innovation to the market.
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Also, for those leaders in healthcare, the opportunity to be at the forefront of creating and scaling life-changing innovation resides in the early stage. This sector needs strong leaders like yourself to drive innovation in the years to come. I wanted to share a link to a program specifically for leaders in healthcare who are looking for insights into building the next chapter of their career in the early-stage. I was asked to contribute to this program based on my experience of leaving a large healthcare company and building my career in the early-stage. Please take a look at the link below.