Entrepreneurs Must View Leadership as a Valuable Piece of Art

Posted: April 15, 2012 by Tom Heuer in Leadership, Startup

One of the operating approaches to leadership embraced sometimes by entrepreneurs is Vance Packard’s definition  –  “Leadership appears to be the art of getting others to want to do something you are convinced should be done.”  It is a straightforward, inspirational definition that brings true clarity about leadership to entrepreneurs and their employees.   It says that people will respond and support leaders if they believe the leader is convicted about the importance of the business idea, the work or the project.   This definition encourages entrepreneurs to invest the time and effort in gaining a commitment from their constituencies about the initiative or business purpose.   If you focus as much energy on engaging your employees and vendors as you do in passionately developing the business idea, your efforts will be rewarded.

“Want To” Versus “Have To”

This definition proposes many important concepts for an entrepreneur such as “to want” and “convinced.”  The final product/service delivered to customers is very different if employees “want to” versus “have to.”  My entrepreneurship classes are always more exciting and meaningful if the students “want to” attend class versus “having to” attend class on a Monday morning at 8:00 am.  The “want to” occurs because the “owner” has committed the effort to convincing each employee how important the product/service is to/for the customer.  How did the entrepreneur “convince” them?   This is the “art” in the leader’s role.

Great Teams Respond to the Entrepreneur’s Passion

Review the definition again.  People often comment to me about the phrase  “Leadership appears to be the art…”  It is intriguing to them that “Leadership is an Art.”      True leadership offers mystery and suspense.  It is not etched in granite like management.  Leadership has no formula or equation defining its actions and responses.  It opens up possibilities not yet understood or discovered.  Leadership takes uncertainty and wraps it in inspiration and hope.  Leadership paints opportunity for every difficult situation.  Remember, Art is the expression of the heart and soul.  This is why entrepreneurs are successful with their business idea – it is their heart and soul.  The formula of creating and developing a business idea is never the same.  So, it is with how entrepreneurs must lead their teams.  Great teams made up of great people respond to vision, direction, strategy, feedback and encouragement.   All teams are different.  So, no formula exists.  It is the art of leadership.  And entrepreneurs must be practice this art.

Why Should Leadership Be Important to Entrepreneurs

So, why is the “leadership and art connection” important to entrepreneurs in convincing employees.  It offers a sense of freedom in thinking and performing not often available in large companies today.  The thought of being guided takes the handcuffs off people.  It allows people to see new horizons where the sunset is defined by opportunity.  Entrepreneurs paint exciting, new dawns, every day for their people and customers.  It means yesterday is over; let’s learn from it and move on. Tomorrow is part of the leader’s quest to bring the future into focus.

Art is also about expression and leaders pursue listening as an expression of their trust for people.  People want to be associated with individuals who put their “heart and soul” into their work and ultimately, grab their passion.  Listening creates the trust so passion can enter the follower’s heart.  So, the spark occurs, the connection happens and the art flows when the leader guides, listens and enables.  It is art so magnificent that even Picasso, Michelangelo and Monet would marvel at it.  And it is art so powerful that it convinces people to want to perform at their best.  It is art that lifts start-ups to successful growth companies.

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