Entrepreneur, Author, Professor, Global CEO

September 27, 2012

What is Entrepreneurial Leadership?

Entrepreneurs start companies that make money or enterprises that deliver social good. Successful entrepreneurs deliver products or services that real customers find valuable enough that they are willing to pay money for them.

That is not enough. Growing an enterprise is a very different endeavor. You cannot grow an enterprise without first having developed a valuable product or service, but the challenges of growth are very different than the challenges of product and business model verification.

I believe that an entrepreneurial leader (EL) is required to grow an idea into a value producing and self-sustaining enterprise. So my definition of an Entrepreneurial Leader is someone who can take an idea and grow it into a value producing, self-sustaining enterprise.

Fortunately most people can acquire the skills required to be an EL. The unfortunate fact is that most entrepreneurs are never told about what skills they need to make it past launching a product or service. They learn it the hard way – often by getting fired or moved aside or by seeing their firm languish and surpassed by others.

We will talk about the skills required in subsequent posts, but I need to let you know about a big challenge that every EL must face. Entrepreneurs are inherently selfish people (even if they say they are starting their enterprise for altruistic reasons). Leaders are basically selfless people because a leader is somebody that makes those around him feel they will be successful. There is some overlap between what entrepreneurs and leaders do – they both lead activities that produce change, but there are big differences in how they go about achieving their objectives.

An Entrepreneurial Leader is not just an entrepreneur plus a leader. There is only a razor’s edge to balance on between the two agendas for change, and this sharp edge injures most entrepreneurs in their quest to grow their ideas into a reality and success for many others. See the syllabus to my course to get an idea about the various skills required to become an EL.

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