Why your next hire should be an Entrepreneurial Leader.
Entrepreneurs have become the super heroes of the business world with the likes of Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and Bill Gates often listed among the most well-known and ‘famous’ leaders of all time. It’s the impact that these iconic entrepreneurial leaders have had on their respective businesses and globally, that has inspired and prompted established corporates to follow suit in search for their own entrepreneurial leaders.
As far as we are concerned, this can’t come too soon!
But what is it exactly that has caught the corporate attention and stirred them to move towards an entrepreneurial ethos and culture? Are they purely looking to recreate their own piece of the Apple or Disney magic and commercial success (no one would blame them!)? Or are they starting to see what we have seen at Entrepreneurial Spark over the last 6 years. Since working with entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs we have realised that true entrepreneurship is a mindset. It’s not limited to those who start out with their own idea on their kitchen table, its for everyone. When it’s applied effectively it can have the most impactful results both on the workforce and the bottom line.
By tradition ‘the corporate’ survived by focusing on systems, processes and procedures and where possible, has avoided any real risk or revolution. This way of thinking and acting is not going to withstand the future of business. Now businesses aspire to be seen as highly innovative, nimble and agile with a deft skill to adapt and react to changing circumstances. They are looking for first-mover advantage both internally and externally. They are looking for entrepreneurial leaders to help them achieve all of this.
So what are these entrepreneurial capabilities that corporates should be looking for when hiring?
Vision – Entrepreneurs are renowned for inspiring people with their vision, in fact it is often the vision alone which is enough to mobilise an initial team, backer or investor. Their vision is often fuelled by a dissatisfaction with the present and a view of how things should be. As well as having the ability to hold this long term ‘big’ vision, entrepreneurs are relentlessly focussed on what steps they need to take in the here and now to achieve this goal. The ability to think and see outside of the confines that the business currently operates in and possess the confidence and drive to voice their ‘dissatisfaction’, is the bold behaviour businesses of the future need.
Flexibility – Their openness to feedback and their willingness/desire to learn, means that entrepreneurs are not only able to adapt more easily to their changing environment, they are also able to positively thrive in uncertainty. Entrepreneurial leaders need to be flexible and manage the threats and opportunities that they consistently face. They learn quickly to keep up with the unpredictable environment they operate in. Leaders of any future business need to be responsive to change in the global environment and know that they can flex quickly to any opportunities this brings.
Risk – The unpredictable and ambiguous environment that entrepreneurs work in does not necessarily mean they are tougher than their corporate peers. It does show however that entrepreneurs are motivated by and thrive in these types of environments and therefore have a higher comfort level with risk. Future business and the changes it will force will bring with it a high degree of risk and entrepreneurs are better at living with this. They manage any anxiety that it might bring with it react and move forward.
Creativeness – Entrepreneurs are not always exceptionally creative, but they do enjoy the dreaming and creative process. They are more curious than their corporate peers and most importantly, less bound by convention and rules. The same thinking that drives their vision – the view that something can be done better is what also drives their creative streak. The ability to think creatively will bring with it innovation and it is this innovation that will bring any competitive edge.
Ownership (not power!) – The entrepreneur has a desire to be the owner and driving force behind the vision. For them it’s not about power over subordinates, authority or rank, it’s about being at the centre of the initiative.
The above are not the only entrepreneurial characteristics which corporate businesses want to get their hands on, although these are by far the most sought after. Persuasiveness, confidence, strong communication skills, their ability to always be recruiting – be it talent, customers or investors are to name just a few more. However, it is the overall attitude, mindset and behaviour that makes up the entrepreneurial leader and the positive impact they then have within any business that makes them such a desired recruit for the future.
Great leaders, whether it be within a corporate or start up business have a lot of traits in common, and most can learn to flex to the demands of whatever challenges they may face. However entrepreneurial leaders surpass their corporate counterparts when faced with many situations because of their ability to ‘see’ things differently and therefore their ability to act differently. It is this entrepreneurial mindset and approach that sets them apart and that will help to ‘future proof’ both the businesses they work for and them as individuals.