Leadership plays a big role in determining the success of an organization.
Effective and accountable leadership can help propel a company forward. On the flip side, a failure to live up to the expectations of leadership can have cascading and lingering effects across an entire organization.
Bridging the Leadership Accountability Gap
Today’s infographic, from bestselling author Vince Molinaro, is a revealing look at the impact that leadership accountability can have on an organization.
Pre-order Vince Molinaro’s new book, Accountable Leaders
The Value of Leadership Accountability
The majority of people within organizations understand the value of leadership accountability – yet, in practice, many leaders fail to deliver on that promise.
A global survey of over 2,000 HR leaders and senior executives revealed that a mere 27% believed they had a strong leadership culture. Two-thirds of those surveyed believed that leadership accountability is a critical issue within their organization, while only one-third are satisfied with the degree of leadership accountability demonstrated at in their workplace.
What impact does this leadership accountability gap have on the performance of a company? As it turns out, a lot.
The Critical Link Between Accountability and Performance
Once survey responses were organized into three distinct categories – low performers, average performers, and industry leaders – interesting trends began to emerge.
Companies in the “industry leaders” category were far more likely to have a culture of leadership accountability. In fact, industry leaders were twice as likely to have clearly established expectations for their leadership team than respondents in the average or lower performing categories. These high performing companies were also far more likely to:
- Have formal succession programs to help identify high-potential leaders
- Have practices in place to foster more diverse leadership teams
- Implement development programs to effectively build the capacity of leaders
Industry leading companies had leadership teams that ranked higher in a number of key areas. Leaders at high performing companies were far more likely to:
- Understand customer needs and desires
- Understand external trends affecting the business
- Demonstrate a high level of emotional maturity
- Demonstrate passion for executing on the company’s vision
In many of these areas, the gap between industry leaders and the other categories is significant, which presents a compelling case for embracing leadership accountability as a core value.
Building a Strong Leadership Culture: Questions to Ask
The first step to building a culture of leadership accountability is self reflection. Here are questions leaders can ask to help assess how their organization is doing:
- Is leadership accountability a critical priority in your organization?
- Has your organization set clear leadership expectations for leaders?
- Do you believe your leaders at all levels, are fully committed to their leadership roles?
- Have you built a strong and aligned leadership culture across your organization?
- Does your organization have the courage to identify and address mediocre leadership at an individual and team level?
Answering “no” to any of the questions above means there’s an opportunity to develop a more accountable and effective leadership team.
Only three things happen naturally in organizations. Friction, confusion and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.
– Peter Drucker
Tech’s Bizarre Beginnings & Lucrative Pivots
By embracing uncertainty and making timely pivots, we visualize the bizarre origin stories of the most successful tech companies today.
Tech’s Bizarre Beginnings & Lucrative Pivots
When you’re building something great, things are bound to get messy.
As many as 80-90% of startups fold and those left standing also fail, repeatedly. Rarely does a business take a straight run at success, and that includes the likes of Apple, Facebook, and their fellow tech giants.
Product lines can come to a screeching halt. Ideas can be stolen. And, yes, even geniuses like Steve Jobs get forced out. But by embracing uncertainty and making timely pivots, the tech companies in the infographic above have become some of the most influential—and valuable—organizations on the planet.
Let’s take a closer look at some of tech’s intriguing beginnings and lucrative pivots.
Samsung’s Evolution from Fish to Phones
Samsung spent much of the 1950s and 1960s testing market waters. The South Korean company tried everything from insurance to textiles, and most oddly, trading dehydrated fish.
Following its experimental phase, Samsung released its first consumer electronic product in 1970—a black-and-white television.
After making a name for itself with TVs, Samsung entered the telecommunications hardware sector in 1980 by way of acquisition. Its product diversification strategy was a successful one. Samsung went on to gain international prominence throughout the 1990s and restructured in 1993 to focus on electronics, chemicals, and engineering.
- Today, Samsung is worth more than $275 billion.
- It has the second-largest market share of smartphone sales in North America, behind Apple.
Facebook Ratings to Friend Requests
Thanks to movies like “The Social Network”, Facebook’s origin story has been hotly discussed.
“Facemash” was developed in Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room, as a platform that compared and rated pictures of coeds. When it pivoted from rating coeds to connecting coeds, “TheFacebook” quickly took off across Harvard and spread across the university ecosystem.
- In 2012, Facebook became the first social network to reach 1 billion users.
- It now boasts more than 2.7 billion users across the planet.
- In total, the company has more than 3.14 billion account holders across its platforms, which include acquired companies like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
— Henry Ford
About Them Apples: Mac Starts with Schools
From the jump, Apple was strategic.
To open up the market for personal computers, Steve Jobs (Apple’s now legendary co-founder), personally lobbied multiple levels of government to increase tax incentives for companies that donate to schools—a remarkable undertaking for a scrappy startup.
After his federal lobbying fell through, Jobs was successful in the state of California. By initially focusing on education—and giving their computers away for free to the California school system—Apple amassed a potential user base and claimed mindshare.
“… for about $1 million, Apple put an apple in every elementary, middle, and high school in California.”
— Hacker Education
Today, an Apple computer is the go-to tool of the creative class. In 2018 alone, the company sold 18.21 million Mac computers. By early 2020, there were 1.5 billion active iPhone devices, and by the end of August 2020, Apple was worth more than $2 trillion.
Apple proves that even with a solid strategy and excellent products, the corporate machine can still veer out of control. Jobs was famously forced out of the company in 1985.
In his absence, ventures backfired. After his return in 1997—and the subsequent introduction of the iPod—Apple went on to become one of the most lucrative tech companies in the world.
Sony Sticks to Electronics
Sony’s brand name has long been synonymous with quality—but its first electronic product didn’t make it to market.
After WWII, Sony wanted to make a rice cooker to serve post-war Japan, so the company developed a simple wooden rice cooker with electrodes attached. Due to inconsistent electrical power throughout the country, the project was shelved.
Sony, however, stuck to electronics. After establishing its brand name with TVs, Sony branched out into gaming and is now the largest video game console manufacturer and game publisher.
- As of 2020, its global revenue neared $77 billion.
- The company brings in 26.7% of sales from game and network services.
- Meanwhile, nearly $4.5 billion in revenue stems from its mobile communications segment.
YouTube’s Dating Game
Gen Z has become the first generation to watch more YouTube than TV. But when YouTube was founded in 2005, it was a bit more akin to Tinder.
Back when video dating was still a thing, YouTube aimed to take the experience online. The company even went so far as to offer women money to upload videos. However, the idea didn’t click. YouTube’s co-founders decided to release a platform that would allow for any video type—and from there, sparks flew.
- YouTube was acquired by Google in 2006 for $1.7 billion.
- By 2019, it had more than 1.68 billion users worldwide.
“If you’re competition-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.”
— Jeff Bezos
Twitter Ditches Talk for Type
For the platform known for a deluge of words and character-count limits, it may be a surprise that Twitter was meant to be a podcasting platform called “Odeo”.
When Apple announced its entry into the podcasting world, the team realized they couldn’t compete. Instead, Odeo turned to its engineering manager Jack Dorsey to pivot the company into his side project, now known as Twitter. Although original Odeo investors weren’t happy with the move, the strategy proved successful.
- In 2019, Twitter raked in $3.46 billion in revenue.
- It averages 150 million daily users.
- Twitter collected advertising revenue of nearly $3 billion in 2019.
- It was valued at nearly $35 billion in 2020.
Rubber Boots to Phones: Nokia’s Puzzling Pivot
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Nokia made a very different kind of product—rubber boots. The Kontio product line was successful, but in the early 1990s, the company pivoted to focus on mobile connectivity and hardware.
Released in 2003 and 2005, the Nokia 1100 and 1110 still hold the record for the world’s most popular phones, with more than 250 million units sold of each.
Although Android and iPhone have sped past Nokia as smartphone manufacturers, Nokia is still worth about $24 billion. While its phones were incredibly popular, the pivot took a financial toll, and the company’s mobile and services division was acquired by Microsoft in 2013.
Shopify Rides into Sales
Frustrated with the online sales experience, the founders of Snowdevil—a Canadian secondhand snowboard shop—decided to create their own online experience. Instead of their gear taking off, it was their platform that caught wind with consumers, and the team knew they were on to something.
In the span of two years, 2004-2006, Snowdevil became Shopify. Less than a decade later, it went public in 2015.
- Today, Shopify claims 20% of global market share among ecommerce platforms.
- It has more than 800,000 online sellers using the platform.
Nintendo Games Span Centuries
When it comes to gaming, Nintendo has more than 150 years of experience to draw from.
Beginning with hand-painted cards in the 1800s, Nintendo sold cards for multiple games, including gambling. Their nature-inspired and cartoon-like style was carried into the 20th century when Nintendo partnered with Disney to create playing cards.
Like other tech companies, Nintendo has ventured into some unusual markets over the years, including ramen noodles.
However, its primary focus has remained on games. In 1985, Nintendo released what would become the world’s most popular video game, Super Mario Bros—which has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.
The Winding Road to Success
Silicon Valley’s “fail fast” philosophy—pressure testing and pivoting—can be a lucrative, albeit grueling, one.
It’s an adaptive strategy that isn’t relegated to tech companies alone. Pivots large and small are often a key part of any company’s evolution, from products and services to marketing strategies.
Beyond bizarre beginnings and pivots, if there’s one thing successful companies have in common, it’s the audacity to evolve.
Mapped: The Top Female Founder in Each Country
Who are the leading female founders worldwide? From Brazil to Singapore, we show the global landscape of companies with women at the helm.
Mapped: The Top Female Founder in Each Country
View the high resolution of this infographic by clicking here.
Companies with at least one female founder generate 78 cents of revenue for every dollar of venture funding, while male-led startups generate roughly 31 cents.
Yet, startups with only female founders receive just 3% of total invested dollars globally.
The above infographic from Business Financing explores the global landscape of female-led startups. It shows the top female founders according to the highest amount of capital raised, in each country profiled.
Global Rankings: The Top 10 Female Founders
Which female founders have received the most funding worldwide?
Based on data from Crunchbase, individuals were selected across 102 countries if they were a founder or co-founder of an active company as of May 21, 2020. Companies were selected depending on their status in seed, early stage venture, or late stage venture funding.
With $22 billion in funding, Lucy Peng, co-founder of Ant Group and Alibaba tops the list. Peng taught economics for five years before co-founding Alibaba with 18 others in 1999. Today, she is worth over $1 billion.
Peng’s 2.1% stake in Ant Group is estimated to be worth roughly $4.8 billion. Ant Group filed for an IPO worth an estimated $225 billion valuation in August 2020.
|Rebekah Neumann||$19.5B||The We Company||Real Estate||U.S.|
|Tan Hooi Ling||$9.9B||Grab||Transportation||Singapore|
|Kate Keenan||$1.4B||Judo Bank||FinTech||Australia|
|Victoria van Lennep||$1.2B||Lendable||FinTech||United Kingdom|
|Frances Kang||$581M||WeLab||FinTech||Hong Kong|
|Sophie Kim||$282M||Market Kurly||Agro & Food||South Korea|
|Ilise Lombardo||$278M||Arvelle Therapeutics||Biotech & Health||Switzerland|
Following Peng is Rebekah Neumann, who has raised $19.5 billion with The We Company. Neumann studied business with a minor in Buddhism at Cornell, and later co-founded the gig-focused firm in 2010 with her husband Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey. Following the notoriously disastrous IPO of WeWork, she and her husband have since left the company.
Coming in third is Tan Hooi Ling who founded Grab in Singapore. The ride-hailing app is a major competitor of Uber in Asian markets.
Cristina Junqueira, who co-founded digital banking firm NuBank, also makes it into the top 10 list. Currently, NuBank operates as the largest fintech firm in South America, with over 20 million users. Meanwhile, Lithuania’s first tech unicorn, Vinted was co-founded by Milda Mitkute and serves as the largest secondhand clothing platform worldwide.
Unicorns Bucking the Trend
While funding for female-led startups has been disproportionately low over the years, the number of unicorns—private companies valued in excess of $1 billion—headed by women has grown over fivefold.
Since 2013, women-led unicorns have jumped from just four to 21 in 2019. While these numbers are still objectively quite small, they continue to climb.
Among the newly minted unicorns in 2019 was Airwallex, a company that allows businesses to track cross-border revenues. In April, the startup raised $160 million, valuing it at $1.8 billion.
Along with Airwallex, Scale, Glossier and The RealReal are also found on the list.
New Waves of Venture Capital
In 2019, 2,300 venture deal rounds included startups with at least one female founder. Of these, a number of startups raised over $100 million in funding in 2019 on a worldwide level.
|Guild Education||$157 million||U.S.|
|Luckin Coffee||$150 million||China|
|Northern Arc||$130 million||India|
|Kuaikan Manhua||$125 million||China|
|SpringWorks Therapeutics||$125 million||U.S.|
|Rent the Runway||$125 million||U.S.|
|Genera Energy||$118 million||U.S.|
|Kronos Bio||$105 million||U.S.|
Interestingly, funding data shows that women VCs are three times more likely than men to invest in women. This, coupled with the growing number of female partners at venture capital firms, is bringing a new perspective to tech financing.
At the same time, it’s opening up new markets. For instance, the $57 billion child care industry is largely overlooked by the VC world. San Francisco-based Winnie raised $9 million in funding in 2019, capitalizing on a marketplace specifically for parents.
Consumer products and markets focusing on solutions for women present areas of significant growth, particularly on a global level.
What’s Next For Female Founders?
While just a fraction of all venture funding is allocated to women-led companies, trends illustrate clear resilience.
Female-founded firms continually outperform—and shareholder returns are only getting better every year. As both startup and venture capital ecosystems continue to evolve, the future of women-led entrepreneurship is as bright as ever.
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