Zvi Band Relationships are our most important asset.

Kick off, then f*** off – Servant Leadership in a startup


As our company grows from three guys on a door desk to something more substantial, we’ve invested a lot of time not just to running the company but about **how** we run the company. That is particularly relevant for the CEO role. In talking to many CEOs and a fair amount of research – it’s clear there is no “right” way to run a company – it all comes down to the culture of the company, the personality of the leader, and the type/stage of business.  I personally know & have read on CEOs who are 100% top-down, who run a military-style org structure. I know CEOs who micromanage to get things exactly as they want. I know CEOs of successful companies who have said they’ve never had so little to do.

It didn’t happen overnight, nor was it forcefully implemented, but the personal method of leadership that I’ve adopted is servant leadership. Bring on the right talent, ensure we’re going in the right direction and there are clear communication channels between everyone, then do whatever I can to help them.

My friend Peter Corbett has a slightly different term – kick off then f*** off. Point them to the goalposts, then stay out of their way.

The people we’ve brought on are the top of their game (or will be as they grow). As one of three founders, we still need to serve in an inspirational role, but day-to-day CEO, my role is to help them execute as best as possible. Quite literally – our 1-1s consist of two main questions – How’s everything? and How can I help you? These two questions uncover not only their priorities, but what else they need that are external to their abilities or time allotment. Critics may think that this can be abused to the point where you’re doing their job – the passing off of work would be the sign of a bad hire rather than abuse.

In a SaaS world were the customer needs to come first, this attitude of serving not only your users, but your team as well, seems to work. So far.


  • […] are given and tasks are delegated, so when I meet with each team lead weekly, I take a purely servant leadership attitude. I may come in with certain discussion points, but my general focus is to help them […]

  • I know what you are trying to imply and your point does make sense but that I can not say
    I totally agree with you. You see, there may be some complications in regards to the problems you have mentioned.
    But I love the time you spent in explaining your
    opinion. I am interested in this subject and will definitely
    dig deeper into the problem, even though it is
    going to require me to devote some time searching for current data and reading scholar articles.

By Zvi
Zvi Band Relationships are our most important asset.

Zvi Band

Founder of Contactually.
I'm also passionate about growing the DC startup community, and I've founded Proudly Made in DC and the DC Tech Meetup.