Good, Bad and Ugly of being a Starter

If you think about working, do you get your kicks from starting, maintaining, or finishing things?

I’m a Starter. Pure, genuine starter. The dude who will be gone with the wind when things have been running smoothly for the respected period. The follow-up questions I often have are “Why in the world you work in a corporation if you’re a Starter?” “Shouldn’t you be working in a start-up?”

I’m not sure if the corporate surrounding is the right place for a Starter or if the Start-up world would be any better. But since I started thinking through these questions and as a brutally honest Finnish girl I am, here’s the good, bad and ugly I have found for being a Starter in a Corporation.

What the heck is a Starter?

I don’t mean here the pre-dinner meal. For me being a Starter is not only being a self-starter, even if being a starter requires one to work effectively without regularly needing to be told what to do. It’s also a being a distributor used in an organization to spark different teams, processes, ways of working that need an ignition towards a new direction.

It requires a keen eye to spot things that need to change from the things that can support the initiative as such, without the change. Spotting the correct elements is a lifelong journey, at least for me. It gets easier after every start, but I feel this is something you can never master fully.

The Good

I’m going to be honest here. I, as a Starter, might see this as a good thing, while someone else disagrees with it as strongly. So please bear with me here 😉

I don’t think your organization shouldn’t ask for an entrepreneurial self-starter if you haven’t gone through the things coming with it. So be prepared.

I believe that the job of a leader is to push forward towards better tomorrow. Every leader aims for a better, more productive, more efficient tomorrow and demonstrates continuous improvement in all business areas, not just with financial aspects. Mention this to a Starter, and they take it’s a mandate to make it happen.

Start fast. As soon as initiative blockers are noticed, they are under construction, and a Starter is on the quest for finding the right people to make the change happen. There’s a downside to this. Starters might need to apologies more than average employees since they don’t always have time to stop and ask for a permit. (Sorry!)

The organization might request to adjust your tempo to the significant contributors, but it doesn’t mean you have to do your tasks slower. Some feel you’re too efficient and make them look bad. Some feel threatened by your phase since they are not used to it. Some feel out of place since you concentrate so much on what’s coming and what needs to be done next.

My husband always reminds me that “Nothing will change if no one will get angry.”

The Bad

A Starter is not the easiest to lead. I know I’m at my best when I have a visionary boss. When your leader can see the change and, most importantly, recognizes the effort and multitude of things needed to be done and changed before getting to your goal, you’re in good hands. On the other hand, a Starter demands your complete trust before a single deliverable is on your table. It for sure is not every leader’s cup of tea.

Having a chance to talk with several people in leading positions, I feel pretty sure everyone is eager to be “that visionary boss.” Being around quite some time gives me also a pretty confident base to claim unfortunately, only a few leaders have the needed resilience and ability to trust a Starter. Those who can make a perfect seedbed for a Starter to grow and an organization to benefit from it.

I’ve had my share of bosses. From those I can think of three extremely Starter -suitable leaders. I’m fortunate to work with one of them right now. (Meet Paula) Of course, this doesn’t mean they would be the best leaders for everyone, but for me, for that time and for that specific role, they have been perfect.

The Ugly

Many organizations want to recruit Starters. At the moment, you can find lots of job ads, for example, agile coaches and transformation specialists who usually tend to be Starters by their character.

Organizations see the need for a person and change but are not always ready to give the mandate to drive it. Accepting a job in an organization like that can as more exhausting than you think. Here’s some food for thought If you feel you were the unicorn the organization had been searching for a long time.

You can also find “the Sand Spreaders” from different levels of the organization. These people feel somehow threatened by a Starters phase, wording, or mandate. They don’t necessarily think about it or realize the consequences of what they are doing, but they start creating blockers to you and your initiative unconsciously. Their reasoning sounds usually valid, but the essence is that they want to do it their way.

Did you find what fires you up?

Being a Starter is something I enjoy and can relate to, even with good, bad, or ugly things. From my perspective, all these aspects can happen regardless of the size of the company you’re working. However, after some mistakes, I’ve identified the elements that make my life a bit easier and organizational requirements that I consider either as a blocker or an accelerator.

Can you find a Starter in you?

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