Business

Young: Facing the task to develop business leadership skills

My enthusiasm toward entrepreneurial leadership as a newfound focus in my personal and business life seems to be continually gathering momentum in my daily interactions.

What I mean here is simply “the leadership quotient keeps pulling me in many directions of exciting new challenges”—and I love it.

This column has also opened many new doors for entrepreneurial communication between entrepreneurs, organizations, government, education and industry. This truly excites me with the power of unity it offers when we set aside our different perspectives on life and reach out to each other in a spirit of togetherness and common purpose—to learn and experience the joys of the entrepreneurial life as citizens of Okanagan society.

This week,  I would like to share with you some thought on what comprises a good entrepreneurial leader.

Entrepreneurs thrive on the uncertainty, the challenge and the creativity of starting a new venture. They like the blank piece of paper. They crave new beginnings, risk and the change before them.

Ian C. MacMillan is director of Wharton’s Sol C. Snider Entrepreneurial Centre and someone I had the distinct privilege of meeting at the University of Calgary-Babson College Entrepreneurial Conference several years ago.

MacMillan has stated so eloquently:  “Entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones who should be able to embrace the challenge of that blank piece of paper.”

It was Macmillan who first coined the phrase “entrepreneurial leader.” When he at down with his colleague, Vipin Gupta, and structured a new book that would be titled “Entrepreneurial Leadership, Developing a Cross-Cultural Construct,” they outlined the qualities of an entrepreneurial leader and backed up their assertions using an extensive survey of middle managers around the world, discovering that a majority of business people globally generally agreed on the ingredients for leadership success.

At the rate of new technology development and the pace of competition continuing to accelerate, traditional approaches to management just aren’t cutting it, the survey revealed.

Management in this globally transparent world of business today means managers must operate in a highly unpredictable atmosphere in which competitive advantage may dissolve in a heartbeat.

Over the last century, the concept of entrepreneurship, once seen as an integral part of leadership, has become split off from it.

Entrepreneurship is now associated with launching and managing small and medium sized ventures. Studies of entrepreneurs have characterized them as achievement—seekers who tend to falter as competition intensifies and a dominant paradigm is established.

Mature, conservative ventures need entrepreneurial leadership so they can perform the continuous renewal that has become a requirement for survival.

According to Macmillan and Gupta, a company that behaves entrepreneurially is able to:

• provide a fulfilling climate to employees making it possible to acquire, develop and retain a motivated talent pool

• effectively translate options into a platform for continuous value creation and corporate transformation

What qualities characterize entrepreneurial leadership? It is suggested that the entrepreneurial leader must perform two major functions—to envision possible outcomes in the face of uncertainty; and to motivate a group of people to help create new venture models that reduce such uncertainty.

This can be broken down into three tasks: absorb uncertainty, shoulder the burden of responsibility for the uncertain outcome of a new venture project;  frame the challenge, set forth a project that pushes yourself and your employees up to, but not beyond, the limits of their ability; and underwriting/path clearing, create a conducive environment for the entrepreneurial transformation, negotiating support from key stakeholders inside and external to the firm.

Organizations must have leaders in order to accomplish their missions. The development of such leaders is always a daunting challenge. Many leaders are often paralyzed by the task of building new leaders. John Maxwell, a global leadership author and speaker, says all roads lead to leadership and that we should not ignore the power of leadership in our daily functions. Today’s businesses need to thrive on entrepreneurial leadership, for people within an organization to be continuously pursuing opportunities if  you want your company to be continually innovative.

Next week, I will share with you a wonderful example of entrepreneurial leadership in the Okanagan for three women who learned leadership and its imperative when managing a diverse group of individuals who desired change in their personal and professional lives.

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