There is an enduring image of entrepreneurs as visionaries. Many entrepreneurs start their ventures because they want to “make it big.” With the fame of individuals such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos, it’s easy to see why this notion appeals to so many. Highly successful entrepreneurs are renowned for their intelligence and skill and for their ability to keep moving forward at all times.
The problem with this culture is that it conflates success with ruthlessness and fame. As a result, many of these entrepreneurs become bogged down in scandal. Entrepreneurs want the benefits of this lifestyle but aren’t willing to consider the ways that they can find success that will last and have a meaningful impact.
I believe that it is time for us to reconsider the kind of leaders we need our entrepreneurs to be. The culture has produced some incredible innovations but sent the wrong message about what we look for out of innovators. We see the swagger of these rock star entrepreneurs without seeing the work that they’ve put in to make their companies successful.
We need entrepreneurs that are thoughtful and willing to look inward. Nobody can be an expert on everything, and the best entrepreneurs are able to recognize this and trust their team members to be strong where they are weak. They should take the time to learn about the business they are running, the industry they are a part of, and recognize areas in which they can improve.
This leads to humility. It can be easy for an entrepreneur to blame their problems on others, but sometimes, it is up to them to accept their share of the responsibility and move forward. Realize that lambasting your team is ultimately detrimental and work to cooperate and find an ideal solution. In any scenario like this, it falls to the responsible leader to create a dialogue that works towards an outcome that is best for the mission.
In general, effective entrepreneurial leaders learn to communicate better. This starts with self-communication. Entrepreneurs should be confident, but realistic about their skills. There’s a certain level of illusion around certain famous entrepreneurs, where they paint themselves are superior to most people. The truth is, however, a bit more nuanced. For all of their talk, many are in the field to gain glory and aren’t necessarily superior to other leaders and creatives. Realize, as an entrepreneur, that authenticity and integrity are both qualities that should define you. And these are things that people will notice.
This shouldn’t just manifest when talking to an audience. Conscious entrepreneurs should work to integrate these values into their organization and everything else they do. They should resist the urge to win at any cost and seek understanding of the value they can provide society instead of what they can provide themselves.
Yes, it’s not as exciting as playing the big shot entrepreneurial genius. But it is consistently more effective. By reassessing the type of entrepreneur we want to see in society, we can create a better culture in the long term.