16 December 2015 14:30:19 IST

Entrepreneurial leaders are the new kids on the block

With the ever-changing business landscape, we need a new breed of leaders

Organisations are continuously assessing their leaders to secure their future. The role of a leader has been in sharp focus in the last a few years. Traditional managers who reinforce and enhance a culture of bureaucracy find it very hard as the business landscape has changed significantly.

If anything, the forces that impact business today have become more unpredictable and unrelenting. In such an environment, there is hardly any room for complacent, rule-enforcing, compliance-seeking and control-and-command leadership. Only leaders who are entrepreneurial can succeed and advance.

Entrepreneurial leaders have always existed in our organisations. Only, they are few in numbers. Given the steady state of business in the past, it did not matter much that such people were in a minority. Today, from boardroom to mail-room, the expectation is every leader, manager and employee has entrepreneurial qualities. What are these attributes?

Self-starter: A very high degree of initiative is expected. Leaders are expected to move fast and act on their responsibilities. Even when they are not clear about what to do, they do not freeze, but get up and do what they believe is the right thing. No more waiting for detailed briefing or instructions, or even goal-setting and review.

‘Just do it!’ seems the mantra for all organisations, not just Nike!

High energy and focus: Leaders are expected to maximise their focus and energy. They have a healthy restlessness and enormous sense of urgency to deliver results and act on commitments.

A research study by Dr Sumantra Ghoshal revealed that only 10 per cent of managers in any organisation exhibit a very high degree of energy and focus. The rest of them need regular doses of encouragement to get there!

Persistence: Entrepreneurial leaders understand that unexpected obstacles or setbacks should be anticipated and addressed. They do not stall when they are confronted with circumstances or people who prefer the status quo. They overcome such situations with focus and persistence.

Internally motivated: Nothing moves such leaders towards progress like their own sense of achievement and drive. They don’t do things in anticipation of external rewards and accolades. They are results-obsessed because they draw their mojo from doing so. It is fun for them.

Respond to the feedback: Feedback is their breakfast. They actively ask for it and are very grateful when given. They are ready to initiate course correction. Such leaders continuously work on their attitude and behaviour. Conversations on improvement energise, rather than depress, them.

Embrace challenges: Demanding or challenging tasks are what they continuously look for. They get bored with routine and simple tasks. New projects and initiatives become magnets that attract these leaders.

Tolerance for ambiguity: These kind of leaders do not endlessly wait for the all pieces of the jig-saw puzzle to be with them before they begin to act. They are comfortable with incomplete information and data, and work hard at making sense out of it.

Rewards: Self-motivated leaders do not need a carrot tied to everything they do. They draw from an internal well of energy, which keeps them going.

The list can perhaps be longer. The eight attributes described above are what we notice in most highly result-oriented and entrepreneurial leaders. While this is a tall order, there is good news: All of us can cultivate such attributes with effort and training.

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