Companies that thrive amid constant change and innovation share a common trait: Their leaders encourage employees to think more like entrepreneurs than traditional workers.
However, thinking like an entrepreneur does not require setting up a startup inside an organization. It means leaders are inspiring employees to think for themselves, creating a culture where people want to play a role in making a profound impact with the work they do. This “entrepreneurial thinking” means people go beyond their written responsibilities to take ownership of their projects.
The Roots Of Entrepreneurial Thinking
Entrepreneurs have long been admired for their visionary ideas and their ability to engage teams of people to innovate new business models and strategies. Entrepreneurs think differently than others. Just look at how Elon Musk has pioneered a new form of transportation, and how Steve Jobs revolutionized the meaning of mobile. Entrepreneurs tend to be optimistic about a new future, and that optimism leads to innovation.
Here are four principals of entrepreneurial thinking for leaders to embody and encourage.
1. Add value:
Entrepreneurs understand that they won’t get paid until they first create value. This is part of all of their projects and serving clients. When your team members strive to create value in everything they do, you see it in how they approach problem-solving.
Entrepreneurial thinking is grounded in creating value.
2. Take ownership:
Going past written responsibilities allows each person to push beyond the feeling of “good enough” in his or her work. Great leaders inspire people to feel a sense of ownership with their work, which comes by finding the meaning in accomplishing the end goal that is a benefit to the company and the person.
Entrepreneurial thinking happens consistently when leaders delegate the end goal and let the employees determine the tasks. Employees who take total ownership for their own financial success and security end up being the ones who drive company growth. In fact,
88% of CEOs surveyed by Gallop shared that employees taking ownership is important or very important for company growth.
Great leaders also don’t place blame if things don’t work out.
3. Share your wild ideas:
Employees who are hesitant to verbalize their ideas will struggle to contribute to the company. People who think like entrepreneurs exhibit the courage to share their crazy ideas under almost any circumstance because they don’t know another way.
I recently wrote about the notion of ideas on Sunday in my weekly column for Inc. Magazine. This isn’t about encouraging employees to work seven days a week. It’s about giving people space to share ideas when it’s best for them—even when it’s on the weekend.
4. Be resilient:
Today’s pace of work requires resilience. Change is constant. Disruption is inevitable. Innovation is the norm. When you demonstrate the power of resilience amid challenges, you are able to endure the pain of failure. Entrepreneurial thinkers thrive in these situations because it is part of their DNA.
The ability to weather the storm of work’s disappointments also becomes a huge factor in company growth. Failing fast becomes part of the process, and new paths are defined by the ones that keep going no matter the obstacle.
Leaders who empower their people to think like entrepreneurs reap the benefits long term. The ones who strive to put structure around creative people will struggle in the new era of work.
To learn more about leading change, check out my interview on leading change with Steve Lucas.