Are you biased? Not a bigot, just biased?
We see that question in the negative. Yet understanding it can lead to understanding a dangerous characteristic of founding CEOs behavior.
I propose that all startup CEOs are biased, deeply.
In fact I am sure of it. I've seen one trait in all of them. And in myself.
What is that trait? It is over-optimism.
So why is that so bad? Let's take a look and see.
Over-optimism is the constant bias to see the glass two thirds full. Hey, why not always full? Startups need to think positively, right? What could be bad about that?
Well the veterans will tell you from bitter experience that their genes are biased to tell everyone that the startup is always doing great. The company hits bumps that are so small that no one notices. The product works great. The customers love it. The tech team will surely fix the bugs. The thing is amazing millions of users. Investors love us. Bloggers can't wait to write about us. People are lined up wanting to work here.
It's all true, right?
Wrong. In fact it is a form of lying. Yes a lie.
Worse than that, it destroys trust in you, the CEO. Eventually employees learn that investors do not love the company. That bloggers talk negatively about the startup. That customers complain a lot. That users are bored rather than excited about the thing offered. And then they all begin to doubt the CEO's words.
Doubt leads to distrust that leads to the exit doors.
For a real life example, take a quick read at this blog by founder, angel investor, Ben Horowitz. And note the comments by real CEOs. They agree. (Thanks for sharing reality, Ben.)
BOTTOM LINE: Over-optimistic startup CEOs get into deep trouble when they distort reality. Out of fear or compunction, from habit or trained behavior, for whatever reason it is a character trait worth dumping ASAP. It leads to destruction of trust. It misleads everyone. When instead you can "tell it like it is" you'll be well on your way to building an unfair advantage.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!