I recently have been reading ‘The Team Success Handbook’ by Shannon Walker. In such an entrepreneurial environment as BRS particularly given the recent launch of our new leadership coaching business easyconsult it has been crucial to pay attention to those strategies that work and those that don’t when you are starting a new business.
What is entrepreneurship, and what separates entrepreneurial teams from others? I asked a few people this question and got a variety of different answers. It is often a broad, vague concept however the following table is the best definition that I have seen so far of entrepreneurship and what sets it apart from non-entrepreneurial, or bureaucratic organisations.
There are 12 strategies that are crucial to becoming a highly entrepreneurial team. In order to be consistently successful as entrepreneurs in the long-term, it is crucial to demonstrate all of these characteristics and ways of thinking:
- Create value. Provide capabilities to your team members through skills, knowledge, tools and processes. Provide direction through mitigating risk (but balancing with reward), focussing on opportunities and providing strategies and solutions. Provide value to relationships by instilling confidence in your teammates through leveraging strengths, increasing certainty and being a partner. Don’t forget to build your own capability too!
- Take initiative by being proactive (not reactive). Do something before being asked to do it – think ahead of the game and outside the box in finding solutions. Ask for forgiveness not for permission!
- Focus on results, rather than the process. For entrepreneurs, there is no guaranteed income and hence the goal is to minimise time and effort spent and maximise the results gained – hence ultimately they must be focussed on the results, the end outcomes. A great saying someone said to me once was ‘Don’t win the battles Kim, win the war.’
- Have an ownership attitude. Take responsibility and be accountable for your own actions, don’t avoid the issues! One of the worst attitudes is ‘its not my job/problem’. This is the exact opposite of ownership and responsibility and is a great inhibitor of entrepreneurship.
- Be in alignment by making sure you are on the same page with your team members, and you all the have same clear vision of success so that you are able to take steps together to get to that end goal.
- Be a partner. Support others, value and respect their abilities and opinions. Learn to have healthy discussions with the intention of reaching agreement and alignment, not to conflict or dominate.
- Take action. This is about getting things done instead of delaying, procrastinating or being perfectionistic about things that don’t add value. Make the call and stick with it! When you take that step you learn faster by testing the waters, seeing what happens and figuring out what works and what doesn’t – this is a core entrepreneurial trait.
- Be open. Be receptive and open to new concepts and ideas – be willing to learn, grow and improve to move past old ways and being prepared and planning for change by looking into the future and observing the patterns of your business, industries and markets.
- Communicate. Let people know what you’re up to – when you start it, its status while you’re doing it, and ‘close the file’ by letting others know when you’ve finished it and what happened. Good communication also means tailoring the method of communication according to your audience – whether it means giving more or less detail, using emails vs. phone calls/face-to-face, and booking meetings with those who loathe interruptions.
- Learn how to handle strong emotions. It is inevitable that entrepreneurs will experience peaks, troughs, successes and failures and with these will come strong emotions. Staying calm during emotionally-charged situations is a valuable trait and your team members will thank you for it. Think of the best leaders you know – they always stay calm in stressful situations and it makes working with them much less challenging than working with those who are on an emotional rollercoaster.
- Have patience and compassion. Have the ability and willingness to stand in the other person’s shoes and recognise their point of view. You’re never going to agree with everyone but until you can truly see things from the other person’s point of view, you won’t know how to connect their thinking with your own and move forward as a team. Also recognise that behaviours are entrenched and it takes time to change habits and progress into doing new things in new ways.
- Don’t give up! Entrepreneurs don’t always succeed, but truly successful entrepreneurs and their teams view mistakes and failures as learning opportunities. They are persistent and determined, learning more from each transaction, project and relationship. Imagine if Steve Jobs gave up after being fired from Apple in 1985. Or Henry Ford after his first failure, or Albert Einstein, or Bill Gates, or Michael Jordan, or Beethoven, or Walt Disney. Sometimes you have to learn how to fail to learn how to succeed.