Rising to the Top: The Traits Every Entrepreneurial Leader Shares


Entrepreneurial leadership is nothing new to humankind.  It has been existing since time immemorial and will exist as long as human civilizations exist.  Human evolution from the Stone Age to the space age is due to constant innovation and the current progress in technology would not have been possible without entrepreneurial leadership.

Entrepreneurial leadership is neither leadership nor entrepreneurship alone.  It is a blend of both disciplines and taking the best of both worlds and disciplines to take forward an idea from inception to reality.  This kind of leader is rarely found and they can easily stand out from the pack.

Entrepreneurial leadership is more of idea generation and implementation, unlike conventional leadership which looks at merely influencing, setting direction, and motivating people to achieve organizational objectives.  

It is all about having a vision, setting goals, influencing people with their ideas, building successful teams, motivating them to pursue and stick to the set goals, and aligning their energies and efforts for achieving entrepreneurial goals and objectives.  

It involves treading unfamiliar areas, product differentiation, uncertainty, risk reduction, participative decision-making, and charting unconventional paths in the entrepreneurial journey.  

It requires passion and vision followed by mission and execution.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” -Jack Welch

These leaders possess initiative, innovation for new products, the ability to take risks, commitment, and tenacity to bounce back from failures.  They have an extraordinary edge to push ahead with grit determination, patience, and perseverance. 

They are highly passionate and light fire in the bellies of their people.  They crave risk, uncertainty, and complexity.  

Succinctly, entrepreneurial leaders are experts at spotting opportunities, developing strategies, acquiring requisite resources, and implementing plans effectively.  

They are blessed with creativity which is the most cognitive skill for any entrepreneur and leadership which is the most critical personality skill. 

Entrepreneurial leaders have competencies in both leadership and entrepreneurship.  An individual might succeed as an entrepreneur but fail as a leader or vice versa.  

It is like a great sportsperson might not become a great coach, not the other way around.  Being good at both areas is often an exception. 

Entrepreneurial leaders are achievement-oriented, highly energetic, and enthusiastic.  They are creative and follow their heart rather than their head.   At times, they are emotional and appear eccentric. They are workaholics and are bullish about the future and highly optimistic.  

Here are some ingredients: 

  • They are visionaries and know clearly where they are going with their eyes set on the bull’s eye.
  • They have entrepreneurial, leadership, and managerial skills for delivering effective results.
  • They convert threats into opportunities, minimize weaknesses, and maximize strengths.
  • They are unique and they alone clearly see their vision and they know the art of articulating their vision successfully.  Besides, they know the knack for marshaling their resources towards their goals successfully.
  • They know how to change the world they want rather than changing themselves to the world.
  • They keep their antennae up all the time to listen and appreciate others’ ideas, insights, and viewpoints.
  • They break out from one orbit to the next higher orbit constantly.
  • They have high gut feelings and go by both head and heart.  They are smart at decision-making.
  • They have both business and social acumen. 
  • They have innovative ideas to experiment with.
  • They are risk assessors and risk takers.  
  • Above all, they are open to listening and learning.  

To excel as an entrepreneurial leader you must possess the mindset of an entrepreneur and leader.  You need to be ideas-oriented, visionary, and persistent and be good at both conceptual and soft skills.  

Here are a few tips that help you excel as an entrepreneurial leader:

  1. Put the right people in the right place for optimum results.
  2. Keep multiple plans like Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D ready.  It can bail you out in case of eventuality.
  3. Be assertive rather than being too soft or too firm. 
  4. Behave like a good parent by caring, correcting, and handholding people whenever they fail and fall.
  5. Learn from your failures quickly and move forward with takeaways. 
  6. Don’t fight, but fight.

Entrepreneurial leadership can be taught in classrooms to some extent. Entrepreneurial leadership education helps set the direction for people.  It can provide various tools and techniques to excel as successful entrepreneurial leaders.  

It minimizes the mistakes that these leaders make due to lack of experience and exposure.  

It enhances the challenges involved in the entrepreneurial leadership journey by emphasizing the possible obstacles and barriers and making the learners proactive. 

However, traits like risk-taking and business acumen cannot be taught in classrooms.  However, focusing on such things through case study discussion enhances awareness and helps in honing these skills.  

Precisely, entrepreneurial leadership is more of a skill rather than a talent where people can learn in traditional classrooms about this concept to some extent and can practice the rest in a real corporate environment.  


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