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Qualities of Successful Entrepreneurs and Leaders (The Same Breed? Or Different Species Altogether? — You Decide)




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Many an experienced entrepreneur would argue that launching a start-up requires many leadership traits; that those qualities often associated with leadership are in fact critical to running a successful business. In past Businessweek post , Rod Kurtz disagrees, laying out what he sees as very explicit differences between entrepreneurs and leaders. In his demarcations, Rod seems to lean heavily in favor of the leader, arguing that leaders have better listening skills, are better teachers, have higher emotional intelligence, etc. Matt Heaton, President and CEO of Bluehost.com, , arguing that while entrepreneurs and leaders both strive to solve a need/deficiency, the way they achieve success is different: “An entrepreneur literally wills his/her idea to come to life and succeed. It all comes from drive and ambition from within themselves. A great leader does the same thing through the people around them.”

What’s ChubbyBrain’s contribution to this debate? We’ve assembled two lists of ten qualities each, one for the entrepreneur and one for the leader. The following lists are culled from many sources, including what the US Marine Corps considers to be the . They are presented in some order of importance (generally, the top five qualities showed up again and again, while the ordering of the lower half of the lists is arguable). We’ll make a few remarks on the breakdown, but ultimately want to hear what you have to say on the matter.

Here goes:

The Entrepreneur The Leader
Creative Character
Passionate Vision
Determined Good judgement/decision-making
Willing to take risks/make mistakes Inspiring
Confident Courage
Self-aware Team Builder
Disciplined Passionate
Self-starter Driven
Open-Minded Forward-looking/willing to take the initiative
Strong people/communication skills Confident

On Entrepreneurship:

Overwhelmingly, creativity and passion top the list, which makes sense to anyone from the entrepreneurial world –entrepreneurship is all about thinking of creative and new solutions, and you better love what you’re doing if you’re spending 12 hours a day on it. On that same note is determination, persistence, perseverance, or whatever you want to call it — a favorite is Another biggie on the list is a certain willingness to take risks and make mistakes, which is echoed in the oft-quoted start-up mantra, “Release early, iterate often, fail fast.” Self-awareness means knowing your strengths and weaknesses, being aware of your competition, and knowing when to ask for help. Successful entrepreneurs also need to be extremely disciplined; creating a business from scratch is no easy task (check out this Chubby post for all the things that go into launching a start-up).

On Leadership:

Above all, pundits, the US military, and leaders themselves agree that character and integrity are essential to strong leadership. A close second is the need for a clear vision; what good is character if the line leader doesn’t know where he’s going? A strong leader also needs to have good judgement, and be able to make decisions under crisis (dilly-dallying’s not gonna cut it here).
Also notable under leadership is humility, a trait which didn’t quite make it into the top ten.

At first glance, the two lists don’t seem to have many similarities, just overlapping on “Passionate” and “Confident.” But look again, and you’ll notice that they actually share five out of ten traits, just worded slightly differently:

The Entrepreneur The Leader
Creative Character
Passionate Vision
Determined Good judgement/decision-making
Willing to take risks/make mistakes Inspiring
Confident Courage
Self-aware Team Builder
Disciplined Passionate
Self-starter Driven
Open-Minded Forward-looking/willing to take the initiative
Strong people/communication skills Confident

On Both:

Interestingly enough, confidence, a quality commonly associated with strong leaders, is much more prominent in the entrepreneur’s list of characteristics. Also unexpected is the fact that all five of the shared traits appear in the bottom half of the leadership list.

Why is that? We have a few hypotheses, but would love to get your feedback on the topic. Do you agree with Rod or Matt? Or are entrepreneurs and leaders really one and the same? Feel free to leave us notes in the comment section below. Being one of the best ipad crm summary applications, base has an awful lot to offer

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