Entrepreneurship is often synonymous with visionary leadership. However, the two terms are not interchangeable. Whilst entrepreneurship speaks of a certain outlook, attributes and personality, leadership is about mobilising others to serve a common objective.
Entrepreneurs and leaders are siblings who share one parent: a high need for achievement.
Besides this, the list of common qualities between effective leaders and entrepreneurs includes:
- Emotional intelligence
- Pure inner drive
However, there is one distinguishing factor between a leader and an entrepreneur: the deep desire for change.
Radical change is the raison d’être for an entrepreneur. A leader may champion positive change as and when it is wanted or required, but it does not form an inherent part of a leader’s prerogative. A leader is equally valued for the ability to bring long-term stability and calm.
How can a leader adopt an entrepreneurial mindset?
It is universally accepted that change is the only constant. There are therefore some characteristics, behaviours and mindsets that successful leaders should actively adopt from their entrepreneurial counterparts, particularly in times of uncertainty.
1. Fostering a learning environment
Entrepreneurs jump into unchartered waters and navigate by instinct. There is no standard playbook on how to start a new business. Risk-taking is inevitably involved.
A leader can adopt the entrepreneurial spirit by encouraging increased experimentation, adoption of new practices and being accepting of periodic failure as a part of the process, rather than a reflection on the competence of an individual or team.
Entrepreneurs cannot afford to let obstacles deflect from goals or give up because solutions are not laid out on the table. Even when the path is clear, the pursuit of excellence will always be challenged by negativity and criticism.
A positive outlook combined with resilient character is a key trait of a leader that wants to practice transformational leadership over simply achieving targets.
3. Sharing success
Excellent organisational performance is a result of team effort, not individual achievement. A successful leader is one who understands the importance of creating an environment where their team can succeed and thrive without their constant input or direction.
Entrepreneurs understand that they must work with closely with, and often rely on, other people to bring their vision to life. Similarly, good leaders value the input of others and allow them to be guided by their teams, viewing other people’s success as a support – not a challenge to their authority.
Is every entrepreneur a leader?
Every entrepreneur needs some leadership skills. An inventor with a great idea in the closet is not an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is someone who can mobilise themselves and others to turn a nebulous vision into a real-world success.
In short, every triumphant entrepreneur is a good leader, but not every good leader is necessarily an entrepreneur.
The bottom line
Leadership skills are a hallmark of every entrepreneur that survived the journey between hermit idea-maker to successful business owner. Leaders can adopt and leverage important entrepreneurial traits to build and grow a forward-looking business adept for the future.