A question that I have heard being endlessly debated in startup circles is - Are entrepreneurs born or made? And what is Entrepreneurial leadership? Entrepreneurship and leadership are sometimes considered as synonym, but, these two terms actually have quite different meanings.
Entrepreneurship is defined as having a defined set of skills that an entrepreneur possesses and practices when starting his or her enterprise. Leadership on the other hand is the process of influencing people and providing an environment for them to achieve their organizational objectives.
Entrepreneurial leadership is therefore a complex mix of attitudes, skills, capabilities, styles, traits, motives, and mental mindsets and effectively using the skills associated with successful individual entrepreneurs resting on innovation, risk optimization, taking advantage of opportunities, and applying those within the environment of a larger organisation. Any entrepreneurial leader must have the ability to learn fast and within environments of ambiguity and change.
The entrepreneurial leader will work within a formalised organisational structure, but use approaches normally expected of an entrepreneur to identify opportunities. Once an opportunity has been identified, they work towards creating a value proposition which will enable a rapid testing of their key assumptions.
Leadership has a key role in entrepreneurial behaviour. People who possess leadership qualities like influencing ability, are found more prone to become entrepreneurs and perform entrepreneurial functions more effectively.
Some of the leadership competencies that influence entrepreneurial behaviour are inner drive, integrity, self-confidence, intelligence, knowledge and emotional intelligence.
Leadership Characteristics for an Entrepreneur
Below are a few leadership characteristics that you should take time to develop over the course of your Entrepreneurial career:
1. Strategic Vision
Passion and a great business idea aren’t enough to succeed in business. You need to develop a robust strategy for your company. Your plan should include where you want your business to be in five years and how you are going to take it there. Many entrepreneurs find that early on in their idea’s lifecycle, creativity is the biggest lever they need to be a successful leader.
Share successes and failures with your people. Information clearly transmitted gives them context and a sense of belonging to the company.
You may find yourself getting increasingly inefficient as you start to handle more responsibilities as your business grows. The key to combating this is delegation and so hiring the right team who you trust and who believe in and respect your vision is of upmost importance at this stage. Good entrepreneurs are always recruiting—talent, advisors, investors and customers.
Silos might develop within your business as your organization grows which could lead to inefficiencies, miscommunication and eventual loss of trust. If this happens, you should immediately focus on coordinating between various personalities, expertise and management levels.
Focus on collaborating both with your internal team and external agencies, build strategic alliances and seek external advice on business strategy from suppliers, customers, and other business sounding-boards. Focus your energies on effectively networking, building strong relationships which might help to discover opportunities, source resources and get that all-important foot-in-the-door with potential customers, clients and future opportunities.