Why do we need entrepreneurial leadership?

“Since its inception, IE Business School has embraced the entrepreneurial spirit as a core value, and is now an international reference in the field of entrepreneurship” (entrepreneurship.ie.edu). What AIESEC and IE Business School have in common is the commitment towards developing young leaders and entrepreneurs who are not afraid of change and challenging the status quo. And why entrepreneurial leadership?

1. Ownership, pro-activeness and taking responsibility

Entrepreneurship goes hand in hand with concepts such as ownership and leadership.
Ownership implies knowing who you are, taking responsibility and owning up to your own actions. Mr. Balvinder Singh Powar, an Associate Professor at IE Business School, believes in the power of self empowerment and pro-activeness in achieving your goals. He invites people to start from themselves and “Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Gandhi)

Taking responsibility for your decisions and actions is hard enough, but taking responsibility for something more than yourself – for other people, a project, vision or a dream is a true challenge. “Pressure makes diamonds” and great leaders often emerge when success or failure depends on what they (don’t) do. Entrepreneurial leaders focus on putting their personal and professional experience, leadership skills and values to practice.

2. Team management and motivation

People are those who drive change and leaders are those who inspire people to take action. That is why it’s important for entrepreneurs and leaders to be people-oriented and possess communication, motivation and mediation skills. When the growth of each team member is your responsibility, knowing how to listen, support and show empathy makes a difference.

Also, recognizing people’s interests and abilities and being able to develop them, sometimes distinguishes a good leader from a great one. When you “listen” to people’s affinities and allow them to fully participate, they feel included; they step up wishing to meet the expectations and exceed them; they put in effort and make a statement. The project you are working on is no longer yours, his or hers.

It is shared achievement.

Team management and motivation are crucial for entrepreneurial leaders because the cornerstone of a successful enterprise is building strong and effective teams.

3. Innovation and change management

The answer to this is simple – “…to meet the challenges of each new age means discarding old, sometimes well-loved methods” (Kazuo Ishiguro). In order to keep up with the swift pace of changes in the world, we need forward, creative thinking and innovative ideas. The man would have never landed on the moon had he not taken risks and fostered innovative thinking. Investopedia.com says that “The entrepreneur is commonly seen as a business leader and innovator of new ideas and business processes.” Entrepreneurs don’t chase opportunities, they create them.

Since we have answered the question: Why entrepreneurial leadership, let us wonder for a moment – Why do we need entrepreneurial leaders?

Because the sky is no longer the limit. Boundaries are being pushed every day, breakthroughs are more common than ever and still, challenges emerge with each day. We need innovation and forward thinking, embodied in entrepreneurial leadership, in order to keep moving forward.

At Youth to Business Forum Top Leaders Edition Mr. Balvinder Singh Powar, an Associate Professor at IE Business School held a workshop Leadership Journeys: Be the Change, Dream Big – From Moon Landing To Commercial Space. Stay tuned for the output of the Forum!

Traits of a Successful Leader


Garrison W., best-selling author of “Speaking of Success” and owner of Wynn Solutions, notes that the average IQ of top performing leaders is 104. This is a remarkably low IQ point and makes when question the misconstrued notion that leadership is all about intelligence and charisma. However, if intelligence doesn’t make a good leader then what does? Here is what the top management leaders have to say on the subject –

  • Good leaders understand the importance of ideas and are driven by novelty. They are inventive and are also open to new ideas which come from their team. As an extention, they have a vision for their team or organization which underlines all team efforts, decisions and policies. “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion” notes Jack Welch, former GE CEO.
  • Successful leaders lay emphasis on people, since their team is the key force of execution of these their ideas. Harvey Mackay, who wrote Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive (Ivy Books, 1995) says “A colossal business idea simply isn’t enough. You have to be able to identify, attract and retain talent who can turn your concept into a register-ringing success”.  As an extension, it is as important to understand what drives your team to be able to get the best results.
  • The Transactional v/s transformational leadership theory developed by Burns (1978) still holds true.This makes leadership less about ‘getting work done’ and more about ensuring that one’s team develops the ability and desire to ensure that the work is done. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves”
  • “Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership. The leader must be able to share knowledge and ideas to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm to others. If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter.” — Gilbert Amelio, President and CEO of National Semiconductor Corp. It is also absolutely vital to establish effective communication channels within the team to foster accountability and transparency.
  • Egocentricity is the possibly the worst trait that can be commonly found in people in managerial roles. It is important to give credit or simply show gratitude when it is due. Humility and good humor go a long way in retaining the right talent. “Exemplary leaders reward dissent. They encourage it. They understand that, whatever momentary discomfort they experience as a result of being told they might be wrong, it is more than offset by the fact that the information will help them make better decisions.” — Warren Bennis New York Times, 2/17/02
  • Having a good judgment is importance and must go hand in hand with ensuring that one is not judgmental. It is important to be open and inclusive. However it is also important to understand when to take in new ideas and when to apply one’s own experience. This demarcation can be made only when can do a swift and accurate risk-analysis, which is the hallmark of good judgment. Good judgment also includes foresight and the ability to make fast decisions.
  • Consistency of character and of communication is underestimated. Charisma only attracts talent; it is consistency that retains it. “Highly charismatic people with emotional instability that keep their people wondering ‘What kind of mood is the boss in today’ are simply the worst leaders”- Garrison W, best-selling author
  • “Men in general judge more by the sense of sight than by the sense of touch, because everyone can see but few can test by feeling. Everyone sees what you seem to be, few know what you really are; and those few do not dare take a stand against the general opinion.”― Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince. Leaders portray themselves well and understand the importance of presentation. They not only, lead by example, but to do it in a visible manner.
  • “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood” is one of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (a book with 25 million copies sold) by Stephen R. Covey. A good leader is always a great listener and also understands the current industry dynamics in great depth
  • As an extension, a great leader would never cling to the past.He/she would be dynamic and learning oriented. Industries evolve at a fast pace and one must be acquainted with the changing realities of one’s field.”Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.”— Niccolo Machiavelli

What do YOU think makes a good leader? Feel free to share your opinions here!