Discover what it takes to be a leader in a startup with mentor Monika Levinson


Monika Levinson

Leadership Coach

Monika has worked for two different start-up in an in-house HR and Legal role and has worked as an external consultant and coach for other startups. Her focus now is on supporting startup leaders to grow to their next level of leadership. Growing from delving into a brilliant idea, surrounding him/herself with like-minded spirits, being really motivated and focused on getting funding and pushing a product to market to ‘what does it really take to be a leader and to guide my team into the future and the next organizational stage?’ The skills for the former are not necessarily compatible with the skills required for the latter. Learning to strike the balance and to define a new set of skills is what she is eager to support as a leadership coach.

What are the elements of starting up a business that get you most excited?

A: The excitement, the energy of enormous dedication and passion. The lack of rules and flexibility. Anything seems possible.

What is the most important thing that you think entrepreneurs should know?

A: As for my line of work, I’d refer to 1). Understanding that passion alone is not enough in order to be a successful and effective leader. It requires an understanding of what skills are needed at any stage of the startup phase. Understanding also the underlying dynamics of how team(s) operate, what their needs are, and first and foremost that the entrepreneurs take a relentless look at what their own strengths and growth opportunities are. The sooner an entrepreneur is willing to embrace that over time he/she will not be able to wear all hats him/-herself, the better. That way, he/she can learn to delegate and focus on the things he/she is best at and/or dedicate some time–with e.g. a leadership coach–to develop the skills needed for their next level of leadership.

How can you help Tauranga’s Startup Weekend participants?

A: The best way, I might be able to help at this stage of the startup life cycle (it sounds like the participants will be very early in the process) is to run a session on what it takes to be a leader in a startup. Have it be a mixture between presentation and Q&A style and be available as a go-to person throughout the weekend, as people want to address possible first questions around leadership or managing vs. leading, etc.

Why should someone who has been thinking about a business idea go to Tauranga Startup Weekend?

A: I am new to the NZ startup scene. My sense is, that it is a great opportunity for the participants to bounce ideas off with like-minded spirits and experts who can support them around refining their vision and business plan, possibly letting go of ideas, and advising them around suitable team formation with other participants.