This piece has originally been published on Startup Iceland blog.

In today’s blogpost, I am sharing some takeaways from my conversation with Joachim Samuelsson, the CEO of Сrunchfish, a Sweden-based tech company with patent-pending solutions for digital cash. Crunchfish are also playing around with many use cases for their technology to address the challenges we as society meet these days, like eliminating food waste.

Leadership and teamwork

Since the interview was for my Genius Leadership podcast, our focus was on leadership. Joachim defined leadership as achieving something, leading people in the right direction, getting commitment, engagement, interest from others, and serving them in the work you are doing. To be a leader, you have to be caring, and willing to be a captain on the ship, to leave last if the ship goes down. 

What really came to my attention was how interestingly Joachim described work with the team. He emphasized the importance of valuing workers more than work. People are loyal to you if you are loyal to them. To have people show up for you, you have to show up for them. You are there as a servant.

Failing forward

Although Joachim is very goal-oriented and results-driven, he still always sets high goals, tries to reach them, but doesn’t get too disappointed if he doesn’t get all the way. The same goes for his team – there is no disappointment when the ambitious goals are not achieved. The key to successful work is not being too demanding and not punishing people if they weren’t able to achieve the goal that was set. The key is to give them flexibility and trust that they will do their job the best they can. 

Failing fast and letting your people do their work

Joachim brings up a great example of how he and his teamwork. “As a leader, I have a leadership team, however, I took decisions as CEO not asking them. A lot of people were very confused and even a bit insulted because of that at the beginning. But I expect you to do your task in your area, and I will do mine. I’ve hired you because you are better than me in some specific area, and you don’t have to constantly ask me if you can do this or that, just do it if you think it’s right, you are the professional. Furthermore, don’t expect me to ask either. Doing so will slow us down.”

Joachim stresses the point that you are an adult at home who takes responsibility for decisions, so stay an adult at work. If you feel like you can do it, don’t ask anyone else, just do it. If there are problems or something that needs to be discussed, bring it up in a group meeting, take feedback and what you need help with, but also feel safe to do what you have to do without previous consultation.

People focus is a positive trend

Joachim’s approach to leading others is the one I see gaining strength in the startup world. Focusing on the people who make the result possible instead of solely paying attention to the work done or not done, is the way to achieve better and more sustainable results. Much like Joachim says, it’s important to celebrate the achievements and growth of each team member, because if you trust and celebrate a person, it will go both ways. Be responsible for your part of work, let the others take responsibility for their parts, and the results will be faster and better.

To listen to the full interview with Joachim, tune in here. In the full version of the conversation, we talk about highs and lows, strategic topics and practical tips for building the culture that you want in your company, building trust, creating clarity, and allowing people play within their Genius Zone. We also discuss building a culture that will become bigger than you, and help the company be more than yourself.

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