Force multipliers – Entrepreneurial Winning Women

Adaptation 3: a flexible, adaptive leadership style

Becoming the leader your company needs now

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There are some leadership qualities that all successful entrepreneurs share: grit, perseverance and boundless curiosity. But in all prosperous companies, how they express those qualities and what part of the business gets their attention will evolve as the company hits its inflection point and then takes off.

That’s when we advise women entrepreneurs to start working on the business, not in the business. As their companies scale big, that concept becomes even more important and takes on new nuance: the necessity to transform as a leader and rethink your role.

To continue growing, entrepreneurs must become the leader the business needs for each particular stage of growth — and that requires introspection, self-awareness and a keen sense of strategy.

EY chart showing a collaborative approach to strategic decision-making

What’s a leader for?

  1. Protect the culture. First and foremost, entrepreneurs need to make sure that what made them successful continues. They must sustain the core values and purpose that made employees and customers flock to the business in the first place.
  2. Anticipate the market. Great leaders make sure they’re spending time every day looking at where the market is headed. If they don’t, especially in this era of disruptive innovation, the business can very quickly become staid and even obsolete.
  3. Find the gaps. Doing a gap analysis on a regular basis helps a leader find out what needs to be addressed in order to take the necessary steps to correct course. Entrepreneurs should enlist the help of their management teams and boards to conduct an effective gap analysis.
“Talent is so key. I noticed that when CEOs hire right, the growth accelerates. To me it’s the most important thing — next to innovation for market disruption — to scale growth.”

Allison O’Kelly, CEO and Founder, Mom Corps, Class of 2012.

Entrepreneur, know thyself

Becoming a leader who is adept at finding and filling gaps, infusing purpose and innovating for the next market shift requires some introspection. Cultivating the self-awareness, confidence and great communication skills necessary to scale big may not come naturally to all entrepreneurs, but these are traits that can be developed.

Self-awareness. Leaders need to intimately understand their strengths and weaknesses. By enlisting the help of their customers, boards of directors and/or professional coaches, they can begin to illuminate any blind spots.

Confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself, you can’t expect anyone else to either. Confidence and the drive that comes with it are key takeaways from the Entrepreneurial Winning Women Program. As we mentioned, participants’ confidence in their business and communication abilities is high: 86% are very or highly confident in dealing with tough business issues and 88% say they are excellent or good at pitching their businesses.

Great communication skills. Wonderful leadership skills will not help much if the entrepreneur can’t effectively communicate her vision, purpose and strategy. To scale big, entrepreneurs must be able to motivate and inspire their customers, investors, employees and even the general public.