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The CEO as Entrepreneur

by Guest Writter
Chip R. Bell

In the past thirty plus years I have been an entrepreneur and managing partner of a firm.  I have been asked hundreds of times by new entrepreneurs and wannabes how to thrive, not just survive, in a “be your own boss” enterprise.  I have also studied those who win and fail with an eye toward learning the secrets of sustainable success.  One observation is that organizations with long-term success are lead by true entrepreneurs or people in charge who think enough like entrepreneurs.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know plenty of well-known examples of people with a brilliant idea plus the guts to actualize it but who lacked the MBA sense to take a small, scrappy start-up and grow it to become a competitive corporation. But, then there are examples of founders who were successful as CEO’s, like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Michael Dell, Andy Grove, Bill Gates, Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, and Larry Ellison.  It is, however, less about a management skill set and more about an entrepreneurial frame of mind.

Leadership is different than management.  Managers direct products, policies, systems and stuff.  Leaders, on the other hand, influence people.  Effective managers are logical, analytical and rational; effective leaders are spirited, inspiring and visionary.  It is the rare CEO who can wear both hats.  Leading while wearing the manager hat may capture compliance and movement but not commitment and motivation.  When leaders think like entrepreneurs they abhor bureaucratic form and value results.  They are impatient, restless and forward leaning.  They are more interested in opportunity than in obedience.

What are the guiding principles for imbedding an entrepreneurial attitude into your leadership aptitude?  Below are my six favorites.  Apply these principles to entrepreneurial leadership and you will start canceling meetings they fail to move the ball down the field.  You will begin discarding policies that slow progress and growth while adding value to no one.  You will seek out employees who are feisty and willing to speak the truth and avoid those only interested in blind loyalty and spineless acquiescence.

Create a Masterpiece Every Day.  Since every single day as an entrepreneur is a day you invent, focus on making it a masterpiece.  Masterpieces are outcomes, not activities.  No one cared that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling for four years in such an awkward position on his back that it permanently damaged his health. We simply marvel at the magnificent result.

Be a Joy Carrier To Those You Serve.  Successful entrepreneurs are joy carriers, bringing a bold spirit to all they influence. Successful entrepreneurs think positive, assume success, and work with a clear vision of what they want to be, not just what they have to do.  Most people are attracted to the light. And, entrepreneurs with optimism and confidence attract winners and talent who are more enthused with a search than engulfed by a requirement for security.

Assume Complete Accountability for Results.  Great entrepreneurs make things happen instead of waiting for things to happen.  They are achievers who measure success more by what gets accomplished than by the quantity of the toil required.  And, they take full responsibility for the outcome. Clients and customers are never moved by excuses nor made more confident by shifting the focus to the supplier who failed to deliver. Entrepreneurial leaders go out and rally the troops, plant the flag, and make a stand.

Make a Difference and the Money Will Follow.  Entrepreneurs who set “getting rich” as their principle goal almost always fall.  Winners do what they do because they love it.  They passionately pursue a vision and cherish those around them who share a similar love.  And, when that dream makes a difference in the lives of others, it keeps their edge honed, their sights high, and their zeal unstoppable.  They are generous, never greedy.  They do not keep score by what they have but rather by the contribution they made.

Be Both Doer and Marketer. Successful entrepreneurs are driven and ardent promoters.  This means they don’t just focus on their product, service or solution—they also market their work. Great works deserve a spotlight; successful entrepreneurs ensure the focus that enables the marketplace to be influenced by their creations.  They are assertive in their pride of accomplishment and are quick to put the attention of recognition on those who made it possible.

Stay Focused on the Road Ahead.  Granted there are lessons to be learned from the past.  But, entrepreneurs waste little time in laborious post mortems or hand wringing over what might have been.  Knocked down, effective entrepreneurs get up and charge ahead.  Failures are instructions for the future, not subject of pity parties. They are excited about the future and eager to be an architect of its unfolding.

Being an entrepreneur can extract sweat and tears.  It can yield bone chilling fear and sleepless nights.  But, following these six principles can help turn a challenge into adventure and toil into a labor of love. They can provide a deep source of pride in making a contribution to the world coupled with the sheer joy of creating a masterpiece.  Be an entrepreneurial leader and watch your organization, unit or team prosper and shine.


About the Author

Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books including The 9½ Principles of Innovative Service.  His newest book, Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experience Through Innovative Service, will be released in February 2015.  He can be reached at www.chipbell.com.

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