Leadership: are entrepreneurs too ‘bottom-line focused’?

By Chris Sheppardson at EP Innovates

If the country has great and inspirational leaders (and it does), why is it now struggling to find new leaders amongst emerging talent? Perhaps there is some truth in the suggestion that many entrepreneurs are less adventurous today?  People argue this is the age of innovation (and that is true in the case of entrepreneurs) but many have opted out of corporate life to be able to deliver something they value, but I wonder, is that motivation getting lost somewhere along the way?

There was a strong view that business process has become too focused on compliance and risk management and this naturally hinders innovative thinking. The concept of “Disruption” has become increasingly fashionable and many corporates discuss the need to improve disruption within their organisations without having the processes to allow disruption to naturally happen. Disruption comes from innovation, the ability to think laterally, to have real grit and determination and to chase goals regardless of the potential barriers. The view was, that structural conflict and creative tensions might create a more conservative approach.

There is also a school of thought that argues that thinking today within organisations has become increasingly narrow – to a level whereby it is hard to develop a dialogue with a disrupter who may well have a broader view. It means every conversation becomes about the transaction and value rather than anything of greater substance and meaning.

It can be suggested that it is far harder today for many young businesses to trade with larger businesses than ever before. It is hard to reach the key influencers and if eventually reached, it can be very difficult to work a path through procurement and internal processes. There is one major organisation that made a commitment to aim to have 25% of its suppliers as SMEs, but this has proven challenging as its payment terms made it very difficult for the SME.

The counter argument is that many do not understand the value of building relationships around the market and developing networks. Business has become increasingly transactional.

What about enjoyment of the role as an entrepreneur? There is another strong debate as to how work today is too serious and intense and the fun/friendship of previous eras is becoming something of the past. Having fun at work is an important part of life. What about the impact that has on your team? We need to encourage more talented entrepreneurs to be braver and take time to reflect and inspire people and their teams.

It is reported that one in ten people today are suffering from symptoms of depression and that one in four of those stems from some level of stress related illness.

If we take a step back and look at the common traits of the traditional entrepreneur, it is all about bravery, risk, culture, self-belief and a will to succeed against all odds. But two of the most common traits noted about younger entrepreneurs are: a fear of failure and a desire to ‘belong’ to a strong culture and community (exacerbated by the reliance on social media and the digital world). What appears to be happening is the emerging generations of potential leaders, want to work for businesses that are committed to improving society and the environment. The debate as to why there is a lack of new leaders breaking through screams out the need for new development programmes to support talent and future entrepreneurs.

Perhaps the focus on ‘bottom line’ for entrepreneurs in particular stems from an increased fear of failure, worries about not achieving the anticipated goal and the additional pressures that this places on the individual. For younger entrepreneurs this fear is on the increase. In contrast, the baby boom generation were often more gung-ho in approached and evidently achieved great things. It was undoubtedly a generation of superb leaders. But there is far less freedom today and young people generally are known to feel under far greater pressure at work. Mental illness and depression is on the increase and it is logical that when one feels under such pressure, talent will lack creativity or productivity – eventually, they will choose to leave, or in the case of the entrepreneur, they will give up. Faced with the same scenario, the baby boom generation would have done exactly the same.

So what is the answer?


About EPinnovates (www.epinnovates.com) 

A shop window for entrepreneurial innovation, EPinnovates has been created to showcase exciting innovations, new products, services, concepts and businesses for larger companies to discover and explore.  Designed to recognise and support the innovation that entrepreneurs and smaller businesses bring to the future economy, EPinnovates tells stories about entrepreneurs; each has a different tale, adventure and overcomes diverse obstacles, but all are looking to improve business and create value.  Accessing these ideas and innovations can be difficult for businesses to truly discover so EPinnovates acts to bridge that gap and help to engineer the future for the better by introducing larger companies to entrepreneurs through the principles of trust, community and relationships.

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