You may be an entrepreneur not a leader

Businessman in meeting, close up

You are ambitious, busy and hungry for growth. A typical day for you  is where you have to attend to the burning project,ensure client submissions are done on time, get involved in operational activities, run from one meeting to another and before you know the day is over. You want more than 24 hours in a day as your to-do list is growing and you are unable to focus on growing the business. You are stressed and frustrated – and this is despite having a team.


You are an entrepreneur, but are you a leader?

The dictionary describes an entrepreneur as:

”A person who organizes and manages an enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.”

In simple words, an entrepreneur is someone who ensures the business grows, manages people and looks at the bigger picture; but is it so in reality?

You started with an idea and grew with people.  Your company went from infancy to adolescent stage, but you are still stuck in the infancy stage.

As an entrepreneur you strongly believe in your ideas and in yourself. You know you are the best at what you do and rarely can someone be like you, someone who can deliver the value to clients as you do. This makes you a tremendous entrepreneur, but does it help in making you a  leader?

In the startup phase you single-handedly managed it all, selling your products/services, answering calls, managing customer service, writing cold e-mails and maybe cleaning floors too. However, as you grew, managing a gamut of activities alone was not possible and so you hired your first employee, then the second and before you knew you had a team. Despite having a team now, you  still have to get involved in the daily tasks,get caught in the thick of the things and you are unable to get out of this trap.


You may be a terrific entrepreneur, but are you a leader?

Let me reveal a small secret, qualities  that make you a brilliant entrepreneur can also make you a poor leader depending on how you use your attributes. If not balanced properly, it can lead to disasters in the team and getting a dream team will remain just that  – a dream.

Your pull for perfection and your fear of things going awry prevent you from being a leader that people need .

As you quickly grew  from infancy to adolescent you had little time to pause, think and figure the new change out.You had extremely high expectations from your team, but the same were not communicated to them.

Author @MichaelEGerber in his book e-myth says – ”As the company grows, entrepreneurs still remain stuck in the technician phase.If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business—you have a job.”

You hire people to be a part of your idea. They join you for that idea and the message that your company wants to spread. They want to understand the big picture and their contribution towards it. More importantly, they need a direction.Because you are so involved in the operations, you get little time to create a direction . At this point, the pressures are high, clients are demanding and the team is new. This is also the time, when the team is shaping up, attitudes are formed, behaviors are defined and if they are not given shape, you will forever be caught in the vicious circle of getting more people on the team and still finding yourself being consumed in the day-to-day operational issues.

As a perfectionist you find it extremely difficult to let go of the control. You fear that lack of continuous attention from your side will lead to poor quality work so you get involved in everything and that is where the problem lies.

People who work with you are adults and psychologically adults don’t like being continuously told what is to be done or how it is to be done . Studies claim that human beings are fundamentally wired to resist being controlled. Your micromanagement will only lead to employees tuning out, resisting you, the work and the company


Let Go

 As your company grows, you have to make a conscious effort to shift from being a task-doer to a leader– You have to start managing people. To truly grow, you need to let go.

You have to realize that you cannot handle everything alone. You need people to handle the additional work. You need people to handle areas that are not your expertise. When you have these talented individuals– your job is to keep them tied together to the vision and growth. Your responsibility is to handle people and their responsibility is to handle the work.


Create context for work

 What should you do to become an entrepreneurial leader?

Create a work culture where your team enjoys coming to work every day.

  • Don’t set controls, set contexts –clearly communicate expectations, give regular feedback, do reviews and ensure everyone understands the company’s bigger picture and their contribution towards it
  • Value their success and growth and in return they will value your company’s growth
  • Let them make mistakes. As humans we are bound to make them. But as a leader your job is to mentor them and ensure that these mistakes are not repeated
  • Let go off the technician in you and
  • More importantly, have fun and celebrate success. It’s the most important characteristic of a charismatic leader


It is not easy to make this transition nor is it thrilling, but it’s the only technique that will help you grow the company and spread your amazing idea and message. You are a terrific entrepreneur, but it is time to become a powerful leader.


Gauri Palekar.


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