Three Characteristics of Entrepreneurial Leadership

Entrepreneurial leadership is not limited to small businesses and start-up companies. According to an April 2001 Knowledge@Wharton article citing the research of Fordham professor Vipin Gupta and Wharton professor Ian C. MacMillan, companies that act entrepreneurially and adjust to changing circumstances are able to gain first-mover advantage, provide a fulfilling work environment and react rapidly to competitive pressures.


  1. Entrepreneurial leaders must be flexible because threats and opportunities can change plans in a heartbeat. Whether it is a small-business owner struggling to hold on to his customers when a big-box store moves into the neighborhood or a large company CEO dealing with regulatory changes, these leaders must be able to react and adapt rapidly to change. Leaders must learn quickly because their jobs are unpredictable. Leaders must also be responsive to changes in the global environment.

Change Agent

  1. Entrepreneurial leaders have to be effective change agents. Successful entrepreneurs know how to transform fledgling companies into established niche players and global leaders. Three actions assist in the transformation process: absorbing uncertainty, framing the challenge and creating a supportive environment. Leaders should assume responsibility for the risks associated with a project, which means that they should take the blame if things go wrong. Framing the challenge means setting goals that push employees to the limits of their ability, such as striving for double-digit sales growth or zero-defect products. Finally, leaders should get the support of internal and external stakeholders.


  1. Entrepreneurial leaders can detect undervalued talent inside their companies. They are able to break down stereotypes about what is or is not possible. They are able to motivate ordinary employees to achieve extraordinary things. Entrepreneurial leaders recognize that execution is the key to success, and that teams are the keys to successful execution. Inspired employees are usually committed and loyal employees, which results in a more cohesive and effective team. An entrepreneurial leader values the contribution of each employee in his team.

Other Characteristics

  1. Other leadership characteristics include vision, integrity, decisiveness and exceptional communication skills. By assuming responsibility for her own life, a leader is able to assume responsibility for the life of her company. Leaders do not blame others when results fall short of expectations. Instead, they look for ways to fix the problems and improve long-term performance.