Being an entrepreneur leader entails many different things, from creating the business vision to overseeing operations, managing sales, recruiting talent, and so much more. How you manage, share and delegate those responsibilities indicates your leadership style — how you inspire your team to not only get things done, but to do it with passion, purpose and excellence.
The point is that your success depends on two things: understanding your natural leadership style and having a diverse team that is responsive and works well with that style.
In the largest sense, business leaders do three things:
- envision and communicate the future, including emerging opportunities,
- handle crises and problem-solve, and,
- acknowledge and appreciate staff for handling operations
The way in which you would handle those three elements of a leader’s role depends on your personal leadership style.
How to Know Your Leadership Style
Most entrepreneurs build a business that either solves a problem or meets a need, so we will focus on three entrepreneur leader types that see, create and take advantage of these market opportunities from unique vantage points.
You may find that you fit more than one entrepreneur leader style. For optimal success and to avoid giving mixed signals to your team, choose to focus on one over the other going forward.
There is no right or wrong style. Instead, there is only the one that is most natural for you. Each style has different motivations, triggers and needs. Consider the following statements to see which entrepreneur leader style describes you most and check those statements.
____ 1. People remark on your ability to create solutions from limited resources.
____ 2. You have a natural curiosity and thrive on eclectic input.
____ 3. There is a tendency for you to take leaps in developing new solutions through business.
____ 4. You draw inspiration from unexpected sources and lateral systems thinking.
____ 5. People who work with you notice that you tend to tweak solutions to revitalize or revamp them.
____ 6. Things seem to happen fast around you.
____ 7. You tend to be ahead of the curve in almost anything you do.
____ 8. Your business solutions not only accelerate results, but provide extra, even unexpected, benefits.
____ 9. You feel things that others seemingly do not and are compelled to share your passions.
____ 10. Others find you highly generous and influential; they follow you even in difficult circumstances.
____ 11. You tend to make your own rules and do not buy into what has worked in the past.
____ 12. Busting out of comfort zones, obstacles, risks, failing repeatedly… you face them all regularly.
____ 13. You surround yourself with people/resources that help you reach beyond your own strengths.
____ 14. People say you have a visionary mindset and admire your ability to execute on your visions.
____ 15. You are known for creating new markets and know what customers want before they do.
To score yourself, consider your checks in clusters.
If you found that statements 1 – 5 describe you the most, then you could be an Innovator leader.
If statements 6 – 10 have the most checks, you may be a Change Agent leader.
If statements 11 – 15 have the most checks, then you are likely a Trailblazer leader.
A Deeper Dive into Entrepreneur Leader Profiles
Innovator leaders synthesize tremendous amounts of seemingly disparate elements to create out-of-the-box solutions. They are “possibilitarians,” are drawn to novelty, and tend to develop solutions during, or even after, a new product offering is put out to the market. This type of leader likes systems, tend to be a thinker and their solutions take giant leaps forward in surprising, yet effective, ways.
The Innovator needs exposure to a variety of circumstances, relationships and problems, including from different industries. As a result, they may be constantly scanning the environment for the latest trends or, conversely, focus on one area and go deep with their attention to find the nuances that others miss.
The team that surrounds this leader must adapt to constant development and surprising insights. Due to tunnel vision when the Innovator is focused on solving problems, the solutions can be great conceptually but need a strong team to help implement on a practical level.
If you are an Innovator leader, it may benefit you to study interpersonal communication strategies to help you sell your ideas to others, goal-setting to help ensure your vision is aligned with team actions, and building professional relationships to prevent work from feeling isolating to you and also to help with gaining support for your ideas.
Change Agent leaders have high levels of vision and engagement so that, once they adopt an idea, there is no hesitation in making it happen. They provoke and will push what they see as positive change. The Change Agent leader will implement in a very practical way to reduce friction and will leverage existing resources for rapid iteration.
This type of leader depends on rapid development and approval of new ideas. They may inadvertently leave behind co-workers and employees who do not buy into their vision as well as those who cannot keep up with the pace of activity. While bringing the vision to life, the Change Agent leader may push others too fast or too far, potentially causing breakdowns in communication, process and collaboration.
The team that works with this leader needs to ask questions, support the possibilities of the idea to see how it can be applied (if at all) and be able to handle rapid-fire workflow. It is also helpful to have strong management and communication systems in place to ensure focused, shared progress.
If you are a Change Agent leader, you may want to cultivate your emotional intelligence so you can relate to others and meet them in their worldview for more effective communications, have a meeting management system to communicate effectively and ensure focused momentum, and build bridges between your concepts, the current state and the potential rewards once the vision is actualized.
Trailblazer leaders explore the emerging edges of new markets, new opportunities and new solutions. They do not settle for doing things the way they have been done before. Rather, they will take risks to blaze the way for others.
It can be both uncomfortable and exhilarating to be in the presence of a Trailblazer leader. They are motivated to unlock the human potential of those working with them through experience, decision-making and investing in their skills. At the same time, they happily go where others have not dreamed when discovering new solutions or approaches to business.
This type of leader is drawn to unproven or new territory. The team that works with this type of leader needs to be both adventurous and able to harvest the opportunities that present themselves on practical levels. Given the focus on the excitement of discovery, the Trailblazer may ruffle feathers and forget about basic courtesies, so flexibility is important in maintaining productive relationships.
If you are a Trailblazer leader, you may want to study leadership skills development so you can activate the potential in your employees and teams. You may also choose to become more aware of your body language as that communicates far more than your words. And you may want to have conversations with the people around you to make sure you are connected with those who will see your visions to fruition.
All Entrepreneur Leaders Have One Need In Common
Recognizing your leadership style, communicating your choices and being clear about your behavior and how it affects your team is important for success. You must be true to who you are to be authentic and transparent to your team. And you must surround yourself with the kind of people who work best with your natural style to create sustainable momentum.
Regardless of your entrepreneur leadership type, you are looking to change the world in some way. Make sure you attract the right team members to support your vision so you can lead your business to success.