Seek global opportunities
He builds his career in the Law. Law was a new profession then. The Tudor version of the Internet. His business connections with the wool industry are strong. In that era, wool was the source of England's economic power. That power arose from trade. Think globally. Build a business with large market potential.
True to people and principles
When the first book opens Cromwell is working for Cardinal Wolsey. Soon after, Wolsey falls from the King’s favour. Cromwell remains loyal. True to both his patron and his principles. Despite the importance of patronage in that time and place, his rise continues. Stick to your guns.
Honesty and clarity
Throughout the stories the character speaks with clarity and honesty. He is a man of few words, chosen with care. The dialogue is often simple. Great issues decided in a short conversations. Keep it simple and be consistent. Use your intelligence and make the most of any meeting.
Perhaps most fascinating are his dealings with his family and household. He treats everyone from his son to the lowest servant with care and consideration. He recognises a duty to nurture and protect. He builds up a group of younger men around him as assistants. Developing and promoting talent is central to his model.
This takes constant care and attention. The author paints a picture by sharing many of her main character's innermost thoughts. He spend his time thinking about his people and the Royal agenda. His people demand attention to the smallest detail. Careful balance of challenge and reward. Approaches tailored to each individual in the team. There is no formal organisation or structure. No job titles. Just give each person a fair challenge and freedom to work.
Focus on the core customer need
It is different with the King. Cromwell devotes his tireless energy around one major issue. How can Henry divorce Catherine of Aragon. Everything else is secondary. He makes sure small things don't get in the way. Organising hunting trips, finding a favourite musician and so on. His thoughts focus on one priority. Henry is Cromwell's customer. Identify a core customer need and focus your efforts.
Leadership is a top start up challenge
Wolf Hall shows us a man with great experience of the real world. He is true to his principles and loyal to his friends. In business he has two priorities. Addressing the needs of his customer and growth and development for his people. He pays close attention to individuals and to detail for his team. But his focus is the big picture for his King.
Growth and investment are the biggest challenges for most startups. Building a successful business also requires leadership. Thomas Cromwell offers a great example. Of course history tells us it all ended badly. Creative destruction still applies!
What are the biggest leadership challenges you face as an entrepreneur? Where are the role models and lessons of experience that will help you?
Kenny Fraser is the Director of Sunstone Communication and a personal investor in startups.