The entrepreneurial leadership guide for everyone
By CHLOE MOK
It feels like a decade has passed since you caught a break and no amount of vacations can satisfy your longing for an adventure of your own. It’s time to start something and finally be your own boss. But, are you ready for this new ball game?
To quote a signature line from the founder of Atari Corporation and Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre, Nolan Bushnell said this:
“The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”
Being an entrepreneur is not just about being a business owner or an investor. It is a lifelong occupation. It is about creating ideas and opportunities around what you have. It is about believing in your decisions and making these decisions despite the challenges. Sometimes, it involves taking unnecessary risks to bridge a gap towards your vision.
An entrepreneur does not quit. He does not stop creating despite the risks and always finds the determination to carry on.
Now, that is a tough standard to keep up with, but you know it is the reality.
Entrepreneurs are expected to “rise above the game” and know what to do at all times. If you are observant, you can easily spot one mutual trait—a rather high dose of leadership quality—amongst entrepreneurs.
It can be for everyone
Entrepreneurial leadership is not exclusively for business owners. Whether you are a budding entrepreneur, a small business owner, or a team lead in a larger organisation, you make difficult decisions on a daily basis. The decision process can be swift but the stakes are high. So, while there are some good decisions made, there are also some bad ones.
It is more than just taking charge, it is about innovation and managing change with calculated risks.
Every business or organisation starts out small with a lead entrepreneur creating projects and ideas to spearhead the team.
Unfortunately, more often than not, a “corporate mindset” takes over all processes and systems after a while to minimise risks and regulate employee behaviour.
Fixed structures and systems are not a bad thing, but they do restrain bold ideas and limit a team lead’s potential, resulting in a stagnant and complacent working environment.
Most of us will choose to fall in line and comply with the system, but a selected few will cross that line—whether to start their own venture or rise against the system. This is where entrepreneurial leadership takes place. This is how entrepreneurs are made.
“. . . never, ever doubt what you can achieve.”
Make yourself an entrepreneurial leader
No one is born a great leader. Leaders are made. Great leaders are forged in fire and shaped over time. An entrepreneurial leader takes a step further with strong vision and dedicated passion towards his/her work. Besides superior technical and professional expertise, what does it take to be an entrepreneurial leader?
1. A source of inspiration and motivation
The success of a venture or an independent project is highly dependent on the leader. Nobody wants to feel uninspired or lethargic at work.
As an entrepreneurial leader, it is vital to keep team members’ morale up by sharing your vision and communicating with them how their work could have an impact on the customers, and the world.
This applies not only to employees, but to stakeholders such as affiliates, consultants, and vendors.
In an independent project, where everyone is working on one man’s vision, it takes a lot more than just convincing. It takes an unspoken yet visible power and strength emitting from the leader to build trust and attract investment.
An entrepreneurial leader leads by example. His holistic outlook ultimately influences the entire project team. You may know by now that stakeholders invest in the leader himself and not the project. The project, without a great leader, amounts to nothing.
2. A stronghold
There are many mentor wannabes who will come your way to talk you out of your decision and create doubt. One of the biggest challenges throughout the career of a leader is sticking by a decision and never faltering. There will be some good advice along the way too, so learn to discern.
Being an entrepreneurial leader means you do not have a Plan B, no safety net to fall back on if you fail, so every decision is crucial.
Trust in yourself and remember your decisions have gotten you this far. My advice would be to take two steps back and look at the bigger picture—the resources at hand and the calculable risks—but never, ever doubt what you can achieve.
3. A manager
A good manager does not equal a good leader, and vice versa.
In order to make accurate and well-thought-out decisions, a leader needs to know, at the back of his head, the resources at hand—money, minutes and manpower—while at the same time carefully progressing towards achieving the end goal.
There will never be a perfect solution or a definite answer to any question. Fully understanding the vision, also, mapping out the smaller achievement milestones, one can become both an effective leader and an accountable manager.
Remember, the ultimate aim should be to create a win-win situation for everyone, including yourself.
Being an entrepreneurial leader, be it a business owner or a team lead, is unlike any other role in the corporate world. No one can define your end goal or vision other than yourself. At times, it can be extremely challenging and frustrating.
Yet, in the end, it can be a rewarding experience.
If this article speaks to you personally, you know that it has sparked something in you. You have a choice to deep-freeze that entrepreneurial spirit and hide an idea from the world, or live to your fullest potential and start impacting lives.
Never try, never know!