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The Entrepreneur and Leadership

This is the third article in an ongoing entrepreneurship series by George Thompson. In the second, he shared the Keys to Success in Starting Your Own Business. 

Leadership is the process through which an entrepreneur is able to influence employees to achieve the objectives of the organization. To be an effective leader, an entrepreneur must:

  • Build trust and confidence among employees.
  • Communicate effectively with them.

Leaders can build trust in many ways. They can achieve it by working hard, maintaining a constant message and/or being available to solve employees' problems. By showing employees they are fully committed to achieving the vision and living the values, entrepreneurial leaders build trust and confidence. This, is turn, yields high employee satisfaction and commitment.

To the entrepreneur, leadership means many things and is one of the most important attributes they can have. To get a better idea of what it means to the entrepreneur, here are some of my favorite quotes about leadership:

"Every time you have to speak, you are auditioning for leadership." - James Humes

"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand." - Woodrow Wilson

"A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them." - M.D. Arnold

"Don't follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you." - Margaret Thatcher

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." - Kurt Vonnegut

"Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading the ideas that work." - Seth Godin

"The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things." - Ronald Reagan

"To add value to others, one must first value others." - John Maxwell

"A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent." - Douglas MacArthur

"The task of the leader is to get their people from where they are to where they have not been." - Henry Kissinger

"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people." - Mahatma Gandhi

"There are no office hours for leaders." - Cardinal J. Gibbons

"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right thing." - Peter F. Drucker

My favorite quote on leadership, that I believe sums up the need of an entrepreneur to be a leader, is this: 

"Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50 percent of your time in leading yourself - your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20 percent leading those with authority over you and 15 percent leading your peers." - Dee Hock

Think about this description of a leader. Half of your time is spent guiding yourself, making sure that you are following the values of your own organization so that your employees, customers and vendors see that you are walking the walk of what you believe. You spend 20 percent of your time leading those with authority over you and your business. This is not discussed much but it is important. A leader will lead everyone, including those you are to be following. A leader takes charge and guides those above them to achieve the goals or end game that is consistent with the Enterprise Vision. The last part of leadership is leading your peers; a great leader will inspire everyone around them to follow and join the path to success.

Rarely can entrepreneurs make a company succeed by themselves. This is much like the fact that the greatest athlete doesn't ensure that their team will win if the other players cannot perform. As such, entrepreneurs need to be able to identify staffing needs, expertly fill them and lead the team to success.

Entrepreneurship, Leadership

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Portrait of George Thompson