Team leaders should become “active listeners” if they want to bring the best out of their people, say co-founders of a Portuguese coaching startup, who also believe that a positive attitude to failure can ensure success.

“Through our workshop experience with managers and leaders, we realized how important it is for entrepreneurs, leaders, and managers to truly listen,” Madalena Fragoso, the co-founder of Coachmi, told Via News Agency in an exclusive interview.

Coachmi, which is based in Lisbon, is dedicated to empowering young professionals through coaching and aims to develop a community of young people who can meet their challenges creatively, responsibly, and autonomously, using their tools and resources to achieve their goals.

Coachmi coaching room
Coachmi’s coaching room. Photo credit: Coachmi

Madalena said many team leaders are not aware of the importance of active listening and struggle a bit at first when they get familiar with this concept. “But once it clicks, they decide to learn more about active listening techniques.”

“I also think sometimes it is difficult for entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders to not tell others what to do and instead inspire them to do the things that need to be done.”

Finding Answers

Echoing similar views, Inês Xavier da Cunha, the other co-founder of Coachmi, says team leaders should become effective listeners and help others find the answers themselves rather than giving them the answers.

“It is faster to give them answers. But if you ask the right questions and give them time to answer, they will grow much more. If you spend time right now doing that, you’ll be spending less time in the future giving answers and will have more time to focus on more important tasks.”

Asked about other soft skills that startup owners should develop, Inês said conflict resolution skills are crucial because a lot of conflicts can happen between co-founders and many entrepreneurs do not know how to solve them.

According to her, those who wish to launch their own business should also be careful with choosing their team. “They should not only have an understanding of their team members’ skills but also should know their values, interests, and needs.”

Madalena advises entrepreneurs to “invest” in themselves because it will help them gain self-knowledge, which is a valuable asset.

Entrepreneurship Dream

Inês says aspirant entrepreneurs need a reality check before pursuing their “dreams” because they should have a realistic understanding of what it takes to run one’s own business.

“In my opinion, when people enter the world of entrepreneurship, they don’t know what they are going to find and are not aware of all those big challenges that are coming. And most ideas are not sustainable. That is why a lot of startups fail.”

To avoid “reality shock”, Inês recommends that idea owners talk to people who have already taken the path of entrepreneurship and seek support from mentors because “with enthusiasm and motivation everything can seem easy at first.”

Sharing ideas in a group activity. Photo credit: Coachmi

Madalena says a lot of things are happening in Lisbon in the area of entrepreneurship and networking “but a lot of things happening doesn’t necessarily mean that at the end they will add value to participants.”

“Some of these events overlap and if you’re going to an event, you should ask yourself what you want to take away from it. Sometimes it’s better to do fewer things but with value than a lot of things that do not add any value to us.”

Fear of Failure

Another piece of advice that Inês would like to share with entrepreneurs is that they should focus on their vision but should not be afraid to change their initial idea.

“Don’t be afraid to fail and fail fast,” she said, adding, “I think in Portugal people are still afraid of failure and there is this misconception that you’re not a worthy person if you fail.”

“I think in Portugal people are still afraid of failure and there is this misconception that you’re not a worthy person if you fail.”

Inês Xavier da Cunha, co-founder of Coachmi

She says failure is much more accepted in highly developed countries such as the United States and people there are delivering speeches about their failures.

“But people in Portugal still prefer to remain in their comfort zone. If they open their minds, they will find so many opportunities, so many different points of view.”

“We have to start thinking that failure is like a trampoline.”

Madalena Fragoso, co-founder of Coachmi

Madalena has a similar attitude to failure and believes that “we get better if we fail” and failure helps us explore new “layers” of life. “We have to start thinking that failure is like a trampoline.”