Are Entrepreneurs Fit for Leadership?

by Chris Young

In a recent post on, Andrea Huspeni shares the results of a study by Eckerd College that found 14 variables that measure one’s “entrepreneurial mindset”.

An entrepreneur is an individual who organizes a business taking on financial risk to do so. Generally speaking, entrepreneurs are creative in developing a business plan and putting it into action to create a profitable outcome. Entrepreneurs share some remarkable traits like optimism, persistence, a future-focus, and self-confidence, but an overextension of some strengths can become a weakness. However, an entrepreneur rarely becomes a great leader because they are simply not "wired" that way. describe the image

In her article, Andrea also shares that the study found significantly lower scores in interpersonal sensitivity amongst entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, interpersonal sensitivity is essential to effectively connect with team members and lead an effective, successful team.

From previous and current experience I can share that working with an entrepreneur-type leader can be extremely rewarding and extremely challenging. It can be frustrating to pick up the pieces that get overlooked or forgotten, keep up with the quickly changing ideas, and constantly adapt to where you are needed, but you will not find a leader that provides more opportunity - you've just got to hold on tight for the wild ride!

Following are the traits that make a great entrepreneur, but warrant a word of caution when that entrepreneur is in a leadership role:

  • Independent.While you cannot disagree that most, if not all, entrepreneurs enjoy and likely demand independence; it is important to remember that entrepreneurs must also lead a team.  An entrepreneur's actions, decisions and tasks (or lack of) directly impact their team Entrepreneurs should be sure that while they work independently, that they also provide their team with what they need to complete their responsibilities. Yes, entrepreneurs are busy... they still need to make time.
  • Preference for little structure. Entrepreneurs tend to prefer flexibility in their work environment. While flexibility is necessary to keep their busy minds engaged, the “run-and-gun” personality may forget to complete important tasks because they have already moved on to the next “fire”. Entrepreneurs need to have the right team built around them and provide support wherever and whenever possible to avoid important tasks being overlooked.
  • Passionate.As Andrea explained; “passionate entrepreneurs are completely obsessed with the mission of their startup, along with standing behind its values.” Without passion driving them to move their business forward, they would have walked away when the going got rough.  Being too passionate can lead to being overly emotional which in turn leads to a very inspirational environment or a very negative, disengaging environment. Entrepreneurs have to be careful to keep the passion but remain objective too.
  • Action-oriented. Again, the entrepreneurial style is a fast mover with many big ideas – always looking for the next opportunity.  Entrepreneurs need to ensure that while they are constantly moving forward that they also take the time to slow down to make the right hires and manage your team members effectively (or get someone else to).
  • Idea generator. Entrepreneurs tend to move quickly from one idea to the next. This is great for finding new and different ways to solve problems, but can cause reduced clarity for other team members. It can be challenging to enroll team members in the newest ideas when there are too many new ideas being shared daily. Being cautious in how many and which ideas they share with the team will help optimize this entrepreneurial trait. Quick tip for entrepreneurs: Write the idea down and sit on it for a few days before presenting it to the team. Make sure you have done your homework and that you feel strongly about moving forward.
  • Risk Taker.When the start up only involves one individual – all the risk falls on one person. However, when multiple partners and team members are relying on the success of the business, entrepreneurs should consider taking smaller risks and heavily weigh the potential for success. It is no longer just the entrepreneur's bank account and life that will be affected.

If you are an entrepreneur without leadership responsbilities or desire - keep doing what comes natural to you.  But, if you are an entrepreneur-type leader with a desire to become a more effective leader, we suggest you follow the recommendations above.

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