Leading as an Entrepreneur
Many, who study entrepreneurs focus on an entrepreneur's uncanny ability to identify market opportunities, create innovative new technologies, and new business models. However, an often overlooked trait of entrepreneurs is their ability to lead. We can learn many things from studying the leadership traits and characteristics that entrepreneur's exhibit.
There are several thousand books published on leadership and millions of articles published on trying to identify what characteristics and traits good leaders share and what we can learn from studying them.
Most leaders studied for the books that have made the New York Times best seller list and other published articles focused on executives and public figures that have made a name for themselves in the public eye. CEO's of Fortune 500 companies and political leaders seem to make up the list of leaders who have been studied and published in the numerous books and articles on Leadership.
However, entrepreneurs are the risk-takers seeking to create new value in something that they strongly believe in. CEO's, while leading immensely complicated organizations striving to meet the demands and needs of thousands of employees and shareholders, are protected by immense salaries, stock options, and benefits that would make anyone smile. This protection afford CEO's the ability to focus on only leading the organization in the direction it needs to go and as such, great leaders have emerged from leading many large public firms. CEO's have greater resources available with them to help make decisions that need to be made and more importantly to help implement those ideas through out the organization.
However, little has been studied or published on the leadership skills of entrepreneurs. Unlike, a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, an entrepreneur has no protection in the form of salary or benefits as they seek to create new economic and social value from scratch. Entrepreneurs go up against the odds, yet they are widely responsible for creating new jobs in our economy and for creating new innovation that that fuels great economic value to our society.
The key leadership trait among all entrepreneurs is their will and ability to act. All too often we hear executives and political leaders, including our Presidents, speak of the actions that must be taken to achieve an end goal, however, it is rare for those speaking those words to lead by taking the actions required to achieve it. Entrepreneurs on the other hand, are doers. With out action, they and their business idea would sit idle. Entrepreneurship is more than just about thinking or speaking of our ideas, it is acting upon them. Like a true leader, entrepreneurs are doers and have the uncanny ability to influence others to act alongside with them.
Entrepreneurs share the ability to inspire with their visions and get others to commit to their beliefs. They convince friends and venture capitalists to invest in their vision, they convince executives and employees to work for them, and they convince their customers that they can benefit from the very thing that they are creating. Entrepreneurs, by every definition are leaders, yet they often remain out of sight of the public eye and are therefore rarely published on. While leading a Fortune 500 company certainly merits different skill sets than leading a new company, entrepreneurs deserve greater credit as our society's great leaders, and more research needs to be conducted into their uncanny ability to lead and create from nothing so that more Americans can learn from one of our nation's strongest pool of leaders.
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