Monday, September 9, 2013

Courage & Entrepreneurship - This is another chapter from my book "Leadership Basaics for Frontline Managers" available from CRC Press (Taylor & Francis)

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Find me via email: info(at)ascentassociates(dot)ca or visit my web site or blog 


Whether you are a business owner, an employee or a solo entrepreneur, you will need to be at your best to survive this recession.  Victim behavior, blaming others, the bunker mentality and obsessive cynicism are all strategies for failure. Regardless of your own financial predicaments, the best person to get things moving is patiently waiting for you in the mirror. 

There is more than enough gloomy news to discourage everyone.  We all know the script: Bank failures, stock market crashes, credit crunches, job losses and an unprecedented collapse of consumer confidence.  Not that you should hide from bad news.  Instead, you need to confront it and try to understand it.  But you should not wallow in this bad news.  You need to move beyond passive news consumption and take action.  Now perhaps more than any time in the past, you need to arouse your own inner entrepreneur.

The way of the entrepreneur is not easy.  At a time when circumstances cry out for bold action, employees often shrink into a self-preserving shell of hyper-cautiousness.  Business owners who need their staff to come up with new ways to compete and succeed instead are confronted with apathy, fear and hopelessness.  How can you turn the corner?

What does it take to work like an entrepreneur? 

KNOW YOURSELF:  First you have to know your own strengths, be willing to believe in your own dreams, have faith in your ability to create the results you want, know what is most important in your life and know what you want to achieve.

KNOW YOUR BRAND:  What is your brand?  Where do you stand?  If you had 20 seconds in an elevator to describe your brand, what would you say?  What stories of your life and accomplishments will you want people to talk about at your funeral?

DRIVE:  Whether you are a leader or an employee, successful entrepreneurship requires great energy and drive.  You have to get in touch with what you really want and why that is so important to you.  You need to be able to paint a picture of your own success in your mind then be ready to put all of your energy behind the goal of converting your dream into a reality.  You have to be hungry for success.

VALUES:  You have to know what your core values are and what is most important to you.  Why?  Because these core values will leave their mark on everything you do.  These values have to be aligned with whom you really are and what you really want to create.  And others will have to find your values compelling.

PEOPLE:  Entrepreneurs need to attract and convince others.  They have to understand how to motivate employees, attract investors, satisfy clients, sustain mutual trust and treat everyone with respect.  Other people must want to get on your bus and want to travel with you.  So you have to know how to listen and how to motivate others.
HONESTY:  Successful entrepreneurs start from where they really are, not from where they would like to be.  They are brutally honest with themselves and invite honest feedback from partners, employees and clients.  An entrepreneur with a bad idea wants to know what is wrong.
INITIATIVE:  Great achievements in business do not happen without a strong willingness to get started and to take action, even if the action is not precisely the best action possible.  We have all read the stories of legendary entrepreneurs who started as taxi drivers, bought their own cab, borrowed more money, bought a share in a small business then leveraged their success into a significant business empire.  Are those entrepreneurs really all that different from the rest of us?
COURAGE:  Can courage be learned, or is it something we are born with?  Dr. Merom Klein of The Courage Institute ( maintains that courage is a choice we can all make about how we deal with the adversity around us.  All of us face fears, but we need to learn what we should and should not be afraid of, then how we can face those fears constructively.  Successful entrepreneurs are very skilled at separating useless fears from those they need to confront and overcome.  Fear of bankruptcy is real; all entrepreneurs need to confront this fear and deal with it.   Fear of market rejection in launching a new business can, on the other hand, keep a potentially successful entrepreneur frozen in a stultifying career that leads nowhere.
TAKING RISKS:  Along with confronting fear, entrepreneurs need to know how to take the big risk: the risk that will either launch them on the road to success or cause them to fail and have to start all over again.  Successful risk takers, whether in business or any other field, need to know how to manage risks and take control of as many of the variables as they can.  Successful entrepreneurs who take risks are sometimes very cautious individuals.  They leave as little as possible to chance.  They conduct detailed risk-assessments, weigh all their options, do their research and design backup systems in case of trouble.  But in the end they stand up and move forward.  They take the risk. 
If you are a business owner or a manager, you can help your people become more entrepreneurial.  Entrepreneurship may or may not be teachable, but it can be encouraged.

  • MODEL ALL THE ENTREPRENEURIAL ATTITUDES and behaviors you want to see in your people
  • HELP YOUR PEOPLE TO GET IN TOUCH with their own higher purposes for coming to work
  • IF YOU EXPECT THEM TO SHARE YOUR RISKS, be prepared to also share your rewards
  • FOSTER a sense of rigorous discipline
  • DEMONSTRATE TRUST in others; for many, this is the biggest risk of all

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