Leadership offers, potentially, one of the most rewarding roles you might ever hope to fulfill – to drive change that stimulates innovation and growth, and perhaps even positively impact the world in a way that changes lives! And yet in the midst of such amazing opportunity, you can so often feel quite isolated and alone.
“We do not live in an era of change…but in a change of eras.”
Never before have leaders faced such a variety of complex challenges on so many different levels, and there’s no sign of that changing anytime soon. In fact, the current pace of change fuelled by multi-level technological advances, market complexity and increasing levels of global uncertainty likely suggests that the current pace of change will only increase – or at a minimum is representative of the new normal. So, what does it take to be successful within this 21st century context? We believe it’s all about developing an entrepreneurial mindset! But what does that actually mean?
In our research, we identified ten qualities inherent to the entrepreneurial mindset founded on self-awareness, ability to deal with complexity and manage tensions, openness to experimentation and learning and tenacity. We’ll explore these ten qualities in more detail in our next article.
“When you’re at the helm, you’re the one everyone else is looking to for direction and support”
Coaching might seem like an obvious solution, but who do you choose? Naturally, you want to work with a coach who’s intimately familiar with the dynamic challenges faced by top executives and senior leaders – someone who understands the demands of running a business and leading a high performance team. And that’s not every coach! Many coaches aren’t familiar with the dynamic challenges faced by executives and senior leaders in today’s global business context. That’s where the entrepreneurial leadership coach comes in – a results-driven sparring partner, who knows what it’s like to unleash the power of diverse teams to run through walls, and together achieve the transformational goals of a visionary and highly profitable business.
It’s Lonely at the Top
Many people know how to lead a team or business, but there’s no such thing as the ultimate leadership strategy. CEO’s, senior level executives and team leaders all have their own characters, skill sets and working methods, making it hard for researchers to define exactly what constitutes great leadership. It’s this diversity that makes the top job such an incredibly interesting place to be – and also what so very often presents such great challenge. When leaders run into problems inherent in such adverse conditions such as fluctuating markets, financial setbacks or dysfunctional teams, there are no clear guidelines on how to react or what to do. And even more importantly, often there’s no-one around that leaders can ask for advice. Why? Because, when you’re at the helm, you’re the one everyone else is looking to for direction and support. You’re the one expected to set the direction and to lead with confidence. And that demands awareness of how you lead, what’s important to those around you and what they really need from you. But developing greater self-awareness isn’t something you can achieve alone.
“Someone has to hold up the mirror and reflect back progress along the way.”
The Journey to Becoming a Great 21st Century Leader
It’s no surprise that becoming more self-aware requires partnership with others sufficiently courageous to speak truth to power. Someone we trust to hold up the mirror and reflect back progress along the way. This calls for the help and support of a professional sparring partner who can take on the role of change facilitator; two tasks that could never be carried out in a purely objective way by a colleague, friend or partner. In the rare event that senior level executives get themselves a coach – because let’s face it, there’s always a myriad of excuses why not to – they will generally prefer to engage someone outside their own company walls, who can guarantee confidentiality and psychological safety.
External coaches have no stake in internal politics or organisational agendas, and are therefore much better positioned to keep an open mind, listen without judgement and focus entirely on your development goals. And yet at the same time, an open mind in and of itself isn’t enough! As a senior leader, you need someone who can work with you to explore and deepen your understanding of the core challenges to be addressed.
“If you want to work on your leadership skills,
get an entrepreneurial leadership coach!”
The Entrepreneurial Leadership Coach
Add all of this together, and we can see that leaders need their coaches to be both outsiders and insiders all rolled into one. This might sound impossible, but really isn’t. You simply have to find an entrepreneurial leadership coach to work with you – someone familiar with the challenges you face in your professional role, whether it’s within a large complex organisation, ambitious start-up or innovative and fast-growing scale-up. Someone who’s built and grown their own business, who can be a sounding board and sparring partner – a change facilitator who presents a viable alternative to the isolation of the top level executive, and can challenge you to move from simply being a value creator to becoming a game changer.
As leaders themselves, entrepreneurial leadership coaches are ambitious, results-oriented disruptors, ideally positioning them to both support you in your role at the helm, and to guide you in exploring your potential to become a great 21st century leader that can see around corners. They will work with you to avoid being blindsided by unexpected contextual shifts by tapping into the collective power of disparate personalities and aptitudes working together for the collective benefit of the organization.
“Because business is relationships!”
The Leadership Alliance
For all these reasons, we founded The Leadership Alliance. We are an entrepreneurial leadership coaching and development organization that works directly with business leaders seeking a trusted adviser and sparring partner to increase their 21st century leadership impact. We partner with you to evolve your entrepreneurial leadership mindset and tap into the power of diversity to stimulate greater creativity and collaboration for innovation and growth of your business.
“Because the soft stuff is the hard stuff!”
Our clients are experienced business leaders and senior professionals with demanding roles in complex corporate environments, as well as up and coming new leaders and entrepreneurs with international ambitions striving to quickly grow innovative start-ups and competitive scale-ups.
Want to know more about us and the way we work? We’d be delighted to talk with you, so you can get to know us, as we explore together what The Leadership Alliance can mean for you.
Angela & Sheila
Founders of The Leadership Alliance
 Professor Jan Rotmans, Erasmus University, Netherlands