They are the lone wolves of the business world, relying only on themselves for inspiration and successful at innovating in isolation; until a business idea takes off and then requires the input of skills, expertise and manpower. Very quickly, the lone wolf entrepreneur has to become a people manager, delegator, influencer; a leader of the pack.
It’s a huge transition and it raises the question; can brilliant entrepreneurs become great leaders?
On the face of it, the qualities associated with the two roles couldn’t be more different.
Entrepreneurs create something out of nothing. They channel all their energies into turning ideas into viable business innovations.
Leaders draw on and direct the energies of the people around them to achieve their business objectives.
Entrepreneurs work ridiculously long hours and don’t sleep. Well, not much, especially when they are on the verge of a big break.
Leaders have to set an example to their team by working comparatively sensible hours; occasionally long, but no all-nighters.
Entrepreneurs don’t like to delegate; that feels like a loss of control over their business and its direction.
Leaders recognise delegation as a key business strategy. Handing tasks and responsibilities over to those with more relevant skills leaves them free to focus on business development.
Does this mean that entrepreneurs can’t be leaders? Steve Jobs did both, brilliantly. He innovated and then created a workplace culture of innovation, because he knew he wasn’t going to succeed on his own. Young entrepreneurs are often described as the leaders of tomorrow, and if they are to make it from lone wolf to head of the business pack, these are some of the steps they’ll need to take.
Network – Once your business starts to grow you’ll need to think about bringing in outside skills and expertise. Networking is the key to finding the people who can provide them, who may eventually become key members of your business team.
Share – As an entrepreneur you have the vision and the drive to take your business concept to the next level. Share your vision with the people in your team, inspire and engage them, and you’ll take it much further.
Let Go – A lone wolf in business is also a Jack-of-all-trades; responsible for every aspect of the operation. Let others share the workload and take on the tasks they are best equipped to handle, and you’ll have more time to work on your next big business idea.
Grow – Whether entrepreneurial talent is a product of nature or nurture is a matter for debate, but there is no question that leadership skills can be learned. Take advantage of formal training programmes or coaching and mentoring sessions to continue growing and developing them.