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Entrepreneurs on...Leadership - EY - Global

Entrepreneurs on…Leadership

“If you’re not working cohesively as a team, you’re not working.”Diane Foreman

Leading a team, changing the world

Video: Andrea Pfeifer,
AC Immune

The goal of Pfeifer’s business couldn’t be more inspiring: to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia.

“We are generating something that potentially could change the world. This, of course, is an enormous motivation for our people,” she says.

Her researchers need to develop “many crazy ideas” to engage with such a huge challenge, says Pfeifer.

It comprises 40 people, representing 20 nationalities. “It takes a lot of visionary leadership, and different approaches, to harmonize those cultures and bring everyone together,” she says. “But that makes us a very strong team and brings us towards our goal.”

Leading with passion

Video: Willem Roos,

“As an entrepreneurial business develops, its leadership style needs to change,” says Willem Roos, joint CEO of OUTsurance, the South Africa-based insurance company.

But while the new generation of leaders might need a more “corporate” outlook, “they still need to understand your culture and be passionate about what you are doing,” he says.

“We’re not interested in having typical efficient bureaucrats to come and run our business.”

Entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking need to be aligned with business discipline, Roos believes. But part of the leader’s role is to make room for the magic to happen.

“If you get the right people, allow them to express their opinions, allow them to innovate, and implement their good ideas, you have to do very little actually to get people to flourish,” he says.

Working hard, inspiring others

Video: Diane Foreman,
Emerald Group

“Leading an entrepreneurial business is about inspiring people to go the extra mile,” believes Diane Foreman, chief executive of New Zealand-based Emerald Group.

“There’s no secret to any business. It’s just about hard work,” Foreman argues. “I think: never say no; never say it’s enough; keep going; you can always find a way over it, under it or through it. It’s that ‘can-do’ attitude. And that’s what makes entrepreneurs special.”

Communicating with your team is essential, whether via new technologies or an old fashioned, informal chat. “That’s when you have your best conversations,” she says.

“It’s not around a board table. It’s sitting by a barbeque, listening and hearing back. If you’re not working cohesively as a team, you’re not working.

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