Young: Leadership never goes out of style

We have a way to go when we speak of collaboration and collegiality among local businesses.

My last column found me behaving a bit preachy about recognizing that we have a way to go when we speak of collaboration and a spirit of collegiality among the plethora of business stakeholders that abound within our beloved Okanagan region.


And I highlighted my concern with respect to the naysayers that are critical of our Westside development, but offer little in substantive remedy.

As the November civic election draws closer, I felt this week I wished to discuss, once again, my passion for leadership.

There is no doubt in my mind after reviewing many research documents over the past five years, that “all roads lead to leadership” in some facet of discovery—something that both intrigues me and prompts an eternal joy.

Entrepreneurship has become the forever symbol of business tenacity and achievement. An entrepreneur’s sense of opportunity, their constant drive to innovate and their capacity for accomplishment have become the standard by which “free enterprise” is now measured.

This declaration, for me, epitomizes what I would love to experience with the leadership in our regional landscape.

It is this perspective that has revolutionized the way venture creation is conducted at every level in our nation. It is a perspective that has reinvigorated individuals to once again reach into their inner self and find the innovative spirit that resides, believe it or not, in all of us.

A few months back, I wrote about my new friend  John Maxwell, a U.S. international leadership author and speaker, who will be coming to the Okanagan in 2012 to share his love for leadership. I had drawn reference to several of Maxwell’s books in which he reminds us that leadership is the true touchstone of our daily world, regardless of the “hat” we wear at a moment in time in our daily relationships.

Other scholars remind us that entrepreneurs may be described as “aggressive catalysts” for their contribution to change in the world of industry and business—and lets be generous and include community and social development in the mix.

True leaders recognize opportunities and solutions where others see chaos, contradiction and problems.  In fact, our  world today has turned to free enterprise via the entrepreneurial way as a model for economic development.

I love this, which I drew from my archives as it remains imbedded in my pysche forever and which I offer to all politicians, community leaders and industry and business folks in our midst.

“To lead people, walk beside them; as our best and absolute leaders, the people do not notice their existence; and, when the best leaders work is done, the people will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’” Those are beautiful words.

Again, leadership is fundamental to entrepreneurship. Logically, in life there are many ways to look at the roles and positions of leadership.

There are those of use who will believe that leaders are born and come into a position of influence by virtue of the unique attributes they may possess.

But no matter how we might choose to accept from such definition of leadership, there is a new game in town to excite us and keep us working on our dream machine for the future of our region and our entrepreneurial pursuit.

Since the 1980s, an increased level of entrepreneurial activity has been spawned, not only because of the electronics age but due to a plethora of new products, materials, financial networks, joint venture potential and changes to our politics and economy.

So it seems to me imperative for anyone involved in venture creation to fully comprehend and embrace the importance of sound leadership modalities and their association to change.

On the surface, one can easily associate entrepreneurs with leadership functions, such as providing vision to the development of new products, services and organization.

Entrepreneurial leadership, it has been written by many, deals with concepts and ideas that are often related to problems that are not of an organizational nature, but rather tend to be individual characteristics or behaviours.

These may include vision, problem solving, decision making, risk taking and strategic initiative

One might question whether entrepreneurial leadership is truly a new style of leadership, an escape from management,   or even both.

Since the ’80s, a concern that we’ve all witnessed has been that major businesses have seemingly lost their competitiveness through an emphasis on management rather than leadership.

And yes, it is my strong belief that this factor applies to many other avenues in our world previously mentioned in this column last week and today.

That is a scary thought for me. I would like to argue that as a zealot of entrepreneurial thought, that the organizations of the future will be entrepreneurial in nature.

The leadership, strategies and structure will reflect entrepreneurial thinking (innovation and creativity) with associated characteristics such as  problem solving and action orientation.

It is fair to say leadership for any purpose and goal will necessitate new organizational designs, new thinking patterns and new information systems that entrepreneurial leadership can help create.

Joel Young is founder of the Okanagan Valley Entrepreneurs Society.



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