Entrepreneurial leadership: what does it take to become a leader?

BELL Markus; SCHWAB, Andreas (EPP, DE), MARTIN, Edouard (S&D, FR); CLARK Stephen; MUSTAGHNI Karim; PETERSEN Kassandra; WEINBERGER Pascal

Ms Petersen at EYE 2016 ‘ Digital revolution : a fountain of jobs and innovation ? ‘ (European Parliament, 2016)

This article was exclusively written for The Sting by Ms Kassandra Petersen, former Vice-President of the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises (JADE) and an entrepreneurship and leadership enthusiast and writer.

In an article about the challenge of leadership and entrepreneurship in Europe, the author stated that “leadership skills are what every single company is looking for”.[1] It made me reflect on what it really means to be a leader in any corporate or entrepreneurial environment.

Going straight ahead, I disagree with the above mentioned statement. The reality is, only a few people are considered “leaders” within the corporate world, the rest is expected to follow those few, without the slightest interest of their superiors refining their leadership abilities- no questions are to be asked, no independent thinking desired.

A boss or a manager is not necessarily a great leader

In the old-fashioned corporate world, a boss/manager focuses on giving orders to get things time and cost-efficient done, in his/her opinion, by mostly disposable inferiors surrounding him/her; a controlling, intimidating culture referred to as autocratic “leadership”.

Moreover, functional skills alone do not shape a leader, they make for an efficient project manager. As an entrepreneur, you might have a great business idea and the courage, maybe even the financial resources to set up your company, but you need other people to transform it into a successful business. Jane Wesman stresses: “[Entrepreneurial leaders] help employees develop their own talents and skills. Employees make a commitment to you, when you make a commitment to them. An entrepreneurial leader also knows that it’s essential to help employees grow, so that the business can flourish into the future.”[2] In addition, a leader, understands that with its people, a shared accountability is essential for the success of a company or start-up. “While there always may be someone to blame when things go wrong, a leader must spend the time fixing the problem rather than looking for ways to point a finger at the perceived source of the problem”, says Jospeh D. Sansone.[3]

Kristen Berman emphasizes in “How Startups Should Use Behavioral Economics”, that “[i]t is the person who designs the environment in which we live in who has the most influence on our decisions as opposed to the person who is actually making the decision.”[4] A leader sets therefore the framework, by guiding people with directions rather than orders, according to their needs.

Leadership is about managing and empowering people by creating a common vision and mission and making sure everybody from the team is on board at all times, being able to navigate and/ or correct the course if needed towards a common aim which is the success of the undertakings.

This common purpose, the trust established by transparent sharing of information, the role clarity by defining each individual job as an important element of the overall purpose of the company, and group processes and connectivity are vital. Therefore, a leader should have great HR experience, understanding about team dynamics, the influence of culture on decision-making and leadership expectations, and mediation. He/she is the one that keeps the team going, despite any misunderstanding, differences and disagreements; holding the team together when it seems to be falling apart or losing sight of a common goal by promoting a “we can” attitude that inspires to keep going even when all seems lost.

Furthermore, a true leader listens to all the stakeholders of its organisation carefully, knowing all their needs and demands, he/she makes decisions based on it, but also takes an active part in the execution itself by raising resources to support the team, from staff and budget to salary increases if needed as motivation. Ajit Kambil states: “If the team is overworked and tired, you will have to look at ongoing projects and kill energy-draining projects and tasks that are less important to free up resources to succeed at the more important efforts.”[5]

But how will you decide as a young person if you can actually succeed in what you aim for or if you can be considered a leader in what you believe that you are good at? Universities as well as the corporate world usually don’t give you a chance to try yourself out in different roles.

As much as this might sound like a platitude, join a student organisation, a Junior Enterprise (a non-profit civil social organization, formed and managed exclusively by undergraduate and postgraduate students in higher education, caring our real projects for companies) or even try yourself out taking part in an accelerator programme for (aspiring) entrepreneurs. Those will give you the opportunity to find your role and leadership style in different teams. Additionally, it will help you to find out what you are really good at-what your USP as a person and as a team member in an organisational structure is. People, events and environments make leaders.[6] For some it comes naturally, for others it develops over time.

No matter which one of the previous it is, successful leaders, have all the following things in common: they focus on and reinforce what is important and pose curious questions (never stop asking “why?”), they are self-aware, understanding their own strengths, biases, and weaknesses as leaders, and they are authentic and open to feedback.

On the one hand, an (entrepreneurial) leader is persistent, willing to innovate and to take risks, on the other hand is able to learn and flexible to adapt to his/her stakeholders and organisation.[7]

Coming back to the statement mentioned before, it should be corrected in “Entrepreneurial leadership skills are what every single company SHOULD look for”.

References

[1] https://europeansting.com/2016/08/26/the-big-challenge-of-leadership-and-entrepreneurship-in-europe/

[2] https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/274374

[3] http://entrepreneurship.org/resource-center/managing-people-through-effective-entrepreneurial-leadership.aspx

[4] https://techcrunch.com/2015/12/07/how-startups-should-use-behavioral-economics/

[5] http://dupress.com/articles/dysfunctional-teams-turnaround-strategies-team-performance/

[6] https://hbr.org/2016/09/successful-leaders-know-what-made-them-who-they-are

[7] http://www.forbes.com/sites/startupviews/2012/06/08/5-essential-qualities-for-entrepreneurial-leadership/2/#2aba8a5e2f30 ; https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/resilient-leadership/201607/why-every-leader-should-understand-narrative-psychology

About the author

Ms. Kassandra Petersen has been recently JADE’s Vice President and Head of Public Affairs–, a pan-European organization fostering youth, especially student entrepreneurship. Before becoming JADE’s Vice President, she has worked as a consultant and Quality Manager for a Junior Enterprise while graduating from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany with a Master’s in International Business Law and Management. She is currently working on her own start-up and has extensive working experience in advisory, legal and public diplomacy. Furthermore, she was a mentee of various firms, had in-depth speech, negotiation and intercultural management training, and was an international observer for the OAS during presidential elections in Mexico while studying at the National University of Mexico and worked for the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations in New York.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Children are forgetting the names for plants and animals

6 innovative technologies about to transform our infrastructure

Rising landmine blast toll in Afghanistan highlights long-term care needs of survivors

The role of public affairs in student NGOs

Climate change and health: an everyday solution

MEPs urge the EU to lead the way to net-zero emissions by 2050

A new era of computing is coming. How can we make sure it is sustainable?

Athens urged to fast track asylum seekers amid island shelters crisis – UNHCR

EU budget: the Common Agricultural Policy beyond 2020

Why the ECB had to clarify it caters for the entire Eurozone not just Germany?

Why business can no longer turn a blind eye to poor vision

Banks worth $47 trillion adopt new UN-backed climate, sustainability principles

Draghi indirectly accuses Germany of using double standards in financial issues

Yemen bus attack just the latest outrage against civilians: UN agencies

‘Mosques should be safe havens, not sites of terror’, says Guterres announcing UN plan to help safeguard religious sites

A money laundering case on Vatican Bank’s road to renovation

This man is sleeping out in the Davos cold to make a point about homelessness

Nuclear testing has ‘disastrous consequences’ for people and planet, General Assembly told

Killing of aid worker in Syria part of ‘disturbing trend’

A Europe that Protects: Commission calls for more efforts to ensure adoption of security proposals

Look no hands: self-driving vehicles’ public trust problem

Further reforms will move Slovakia toward a more innovative and inclusive society

MEPs demand an end to migrant deaths across the Mediterranean Sea

UN chief ‘deeply alarmed’ over military offensive in south-west Syria

Do we judge robots on their colour? This study says we do

Five-year low inflation for Eurozone and now Mario has to finally wake up the Germans

This incredibly detailed map of Africa could help aid and development

GDPR and the World Cup have these 4 things in common

Cash-strapped cities must look to private partners

These countries are driving global demand for coal

4 reasons why women should lead the G7 agenda in 2018

EU migration deal welcomed by UN agencies

Parliament elects Ursula von der Leyen as first female Commission President

Cross-border cooperation: the EU Interreg programme celebrates 30 years of bringing citizens closer together

Terrorist content online: MEPs agree to start negotiations with EU countries

Want a more inclusive society? Start with mobility

Can a Bavarian Oktoberfest beer indulger bring down the Berlin government?

It’s Trump’s anti-globalization and inward-looking rhetoric that perturbs GOP and US

Commission offers discount on fines to banks for competition infringements

Austerity ends in Eurozone, Germany is isolated

Africa’s Sahel: Act now before the crisis ‘becomes unmanageable’, urges Grandi

In West Africa, UN Security Council visits Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea-Bissau

New York’s rooftop farms provide fresh local produce – and help stop a sewage problem

The ‘abuse of food relief in Yemen’ must end now

Drawing scenarios for drifting Britain; elections or May’s deadlock?

A ‘charismatic leader’ dedicated to making the world a better place for all: officials bid farewell to former UN chief Kofi Annan

The sustainable fashion revolution is well underway. These 5 trends prove it

A Sting Exclusive live from Brussels: Solheim’s consequential visit leading the world and the UN

The results of Finland’s basic income experiment are in. Is it working?

The 5 lessons from New York Climate Week to help us combat deforestation

UNICEF warns of ‘lost generation’ of Rohingya youth, one year after Myanmar exodus

How technology can help us achieve universal healthcare

The missiles fired against Damascus, Syria divided Europe deeply

The world is getting angrier, according to a new poll

At this Italian bookshop, children swap their recycling for something to read

European Commission recommends to the European Council (Article 50) to find that decisive progress has been made in Brexit negotiations

IMF: All you want to know about Argentina

Guinea-Bissau spotlights threats of organized crime, Sahel terrorism in speech to UN Assembly

Is there a new debt crisis on the horizon?

The China-US trade deal will be signed on time; the path is set

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s