As a young entrepreneur we are always questioned to our capabilities of running a company and with significant research regarding good and bad leadership trends it will allow me to inform and prepare myself for a team behind me.
Your question and your question detail are quite different.
First, your question: The most important leadership trend is that the nature of leadership is changing. People want more autonomy and less oversight and direct management.
Do you currently have a team? By the details you provided, it sounds like you are asking this question in hopes of being prepared to lead *when* you have a team, not asking about the team you have to date.
Either way, leadership is much like parenting. Everyone has an opinion of how you should do it, but you will do what feels right to you, which is a process of much experimentation and feedback.
Don't overthink the issue of leadership, especially in very small teams and companies.
I'm happy to talk to you about specific issues you're dealing with or worried about to provide you very direct responses to those concerns.
Personally, I think we're in a transition away from the "mechanical" approach to leadership of the last 100 years and a more "human" one based more in decentralization, transparency, and collaboration. That's what my book is about (www.humanizebook.com). Honestly, I don't know if the ideas in my book are the ones that will perfectly impress your funders, but I agree you should be clear and intentional about how you want to run the business. Sliding by default into traditional management I think is a mistake. As you grow, culture is going to be a key piece of your competitive advantage, so create it on purpose. Other authors to read: Dan Pink (Drive, Whole New Mind), the Heath brothers (Switch, Made to Stick), Les McKeown (Predictable Success, Synergist).
I just spoke at Net Impact to 100 millennials, on a panel called the Future of Leadership. We filmed it so it will be up soon on my site. my message: I have been leading large scale change for 40 years. I am an Elder in the field.
I see three eras. First is the machine era, where humans and nature were treated like interchangeable parts in a machine.That was spawned by the industrial revolution. Then can the Behavioral era, where humans were treated as living, but manipulatable by incentives, rewards and recognition, mostly by people with power over them (Thanks to John Watson and his study of rates, . Both of these are based on belief in external motivation.
In the last decade or maybe two, we have what might be called the connection era. Everything is connected to everything else and affects it all. This led us to do more involving of humans in work and treating them as having a brain.
What has been underground for half a century and now surfacing more fully is a living systems view of leadership (the behavioral and human potential approaches tend to drop out other life) both internally and externally in influencing change. It sees humans as fully able to be self-directed, self-correcting and self-managing with roles, that were supervisory becoming one of being resources to individuals and teams. People are connected directly to stakeholders and serving them what I call "promises beyond ableness". They promise to do something that will benefit the life of specific customer nodes, Earth in some specific way, communities and as a result, investors. It is all tied to a living strategic direction based on The Responsible Business approach. I have helped collaborative with leaders, design and lead such for four decades and am thrilled to see it become more mainstream, such as at Google. I tell stories of our work in The Responsible Business: Reimagining Sustainability and Success. With 30 case studies of Fortune 100 companies and new economy businesses (my collaborators, changing their industries. My new book, The Responsible Entrepreneur: Four Game Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders and Investors (out in 2014) and more stories including from Google, Eileen Fisher and other game changing companies can be found at www.ResponsibleTrep.com. You can take a quiz and learn what archetype you lean on (and how to branch out), get a free twice monthly newsletter and be notified when the new book is out. And buy the current one through a link.
I love this conversation. It really matters. I feel real hope with the new leaders and entrepreneurs. They care more deeply, risk more courageously and bring conscience to their ventures.
Transparency. It may sound basic and a 'must have', but it's a classic strategy that is proving incredibly successful for great startups like Buffer, 15Five, Groove and others.
The authenticity that shines through when you speak to your customers from 'the heart' can't be replicated using traditional marketing or PR.
Rather than copy+pasting, I discussed it in more detail here: http://onboardly.com/startup-pr/baring-it-all-why-full-exposure-is-a-start-ups-greatest-friend/#.Um6pqZRgaq8
There is really no simple answer to your question the way you have phrased it. Many times we look for a trend or process to manage people when in reality it really boils down to relationships and how one manages their commitments.
As a certified John Maxwell team coach I would be open to discussing the details with you on a scheduled call but in the mean time here are some hints:
1. It starts with Passion but has components of belief involved. Can you demonstrate a committed passion for your business or products?
2. Do people around you feel and understand the vision, strategy and mission that you have developed?
3. Do you have established values that can be demonstrated?
4. What kind of expectations do you have anyone people you hire? Are the reasonable and allow for some input from the individuals so you can ensure engagement.
5. I would suggest you look for and hire a coach to take you to the next level.
Different types of leadership is required at different times and for different purposes and people. As a leader an ability to recognize when you should employ different leadership approaches it an important trend. This is not about bending your leadership but about understanding how to apply it.
You often read about good and successful leaders in recent years that they practiced mindful leadership. Mindful leadership means being able to be in the moment and be conscious of all the variables, that includes your own thoughts, preferences and perceptions. Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahnamen wrote an interesting book a couple of years ago 'Thinking, Fast and Slow'. It reminds us that our thoughts, decisions and actions are influenced by many factors, but internal ones and how they perceive the world around us, are key among them. Do successful leaders become successful because they have perspective and can practice mindful leadership or do they achieve success and then gain a perspective that allows them to further develop the ability to be mindful and gain perspective? Perhaps both. But being mindful as a leader of the bigger picture and the picture in the moment should enable you to better listen and lead the people with whom you are working.
I think mindful leadership and being able to understand your preferences can be improved with self-awareness which can be gained through self-assessment. I use two tools, a personality profile tool (not because personality tools are perfect but because they open the door for self-awareness conversations) and Emotional intelligence assessment. I use tools called Typefocus and another called EQ-i 2.0. I have also worked with organizations that profile their leadership team so people can be more mindful and aware of potential differences in perspective and preference.
There are many leadership trends that work sometimes, in some places with some people. I think the best leaders (for the long term) include awareness of themselves, strengths and weaknesses and of the team around them.
Finding a good coach or partner who can help you gain perspective and see what you need to see and then use that to inform your leadership actions is always a good idea and one that is becoming more popular.
Leadership hasn't changed. Like my mentor says "Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less"
Now the way we influence has changed greatly. I would highly recommend reading John Maxwell's
5 Levels of Leadership
21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and
15 Laws of Growth
There are many ways to lead. I would recommend becoming a person if influence who has a great message that people will want to become a part of.
Where most people fall apart in management or leadership is Emotional Intelligence. You can significantly increase your own and widen the gap between being a good leader and a great one.
One book I recommend is EQ 2.0. Found in most bookstores and has an online self assessment tool.
Knowing the technical portions of a business just isn't enough and people will quickly see right through leaders who aren't self aware. This leads to disharmony, trust issues, vision buy-in issues, etc, etc. Show your employees that you're increasing your own self awareness of areas that need strengthening or support.
You don't need to be perfect in every area, but you do know how to admit it, craft a plan to deal with it and hire the right people to execute!
I'd be happy to discuss further, at your convenience....