Monday, May 16, 2016

On Entrepreneurial Style of Leadership

Academia has always been differentiating a leader from a manager. And it is believed that a manager can transform himself/herself into a successful leader by learning the art of leadership and by developing those traits that a leader possesses. All business students and practicing managers have to deal with this dilemma often and to come to terms that ultimately if one has to manage affairs of business successfully and produce expected results, one has to have a perspective of a leader. This is something which needs further elaboration for the cause of clarity and for the purpose of practice.

The whole idea of leadership stems from the sense of followership. No follower, no leader. So it is the followers who make a leader. Honest intent for the cause, art of articulating the vision, winning attitude, guts to take risk and providing rock solid support to the followers are some such virtues which help one to put forth efforts to attain organizational goal. The vision has to be for long-term sustainability and attitude has to be positive. As they say – a strong and positive attitude creates more miracles than any other thing, because life is 10% how you make it, and 90% how you take it.

Leadership literature is all full of writings on establishing strong relationship between an entrepreneur and a leader. In real sense of the term every entrepreneur is a leader. Interestingly a successful entrepreneur may not necessarily be a good manager. And that is the reason managers are hired to look after day to day affairs. Umpteen examples have been witnessed where such managers transform themselves into successful leaders. This is one of the important challenges before HR teams of different organizations to allow such transformations to happen smoothly and to provide effective mentoring for their upward movement. Leaders have to lead such teams and patronize followers.

Leaders’ interest lie in positive business performance, followers’ interest lie in fair treatment and compensation, cordial work environment, sense of satisfaction and achievement, involvement and engagement. The marriage of these two interests shall invariably result in long term sustainability of such organization.

I have always believed that a leader cannot be called a leader until he or she is a risk taker and possesses strong sense of creativity. These two are basic requisites for an entrepreneur too. Hence a leader always has to behave like an entrepreneur. It is expected from a leader that he/she takes risk and thinks innovatively. His/her thinking faculty has to proactively conceive an idea, design product or service around that idea and deliver it to the targeted customer. In this journey, fellow travelers would start believing in him/her and would become followers.

The real test of a leader is his/her capacity to command respect beyond position and that is how an entrepreneur gets transformed into a successful leader. Jack Welch, Ratan Tata, Sam Walton, Kishore Biyani, Anand Mahindra and all others of their tribe are some such leaders who have successfully taken risk, capitalized on opportunity and mentored innovation.

[The author is Professor of HR at Department of Commerce, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, Delhi. He can be reached at]

also available at PeoplePal - a leadership fortnightly magazine May 14, 2016 Issue cover.
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