8 Behaviors That Distinguish Effective Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship may be the purest form of leadership.  If leadership adds value by going beyond what is, then entrepreneurs express this tendency at the most essential level.  What makes an entrepreneur an effective one?  And what do these most effective entrepreneurs have to teach corporate leaders?

While we work with mainly corporate CEOs and senior leaders for the world’s largest companies, I have a soft spot and admiration for these enterprising, risk-stimulated types.  Granted, I was an entrepreneur for 25 years, so my bias and appreciation for business creators is no accident.

A massive growth in entrepreneurship is taking place across the U.S. with more than 500,000 becoming business owners every month, according to Vishal Agarwal.  Vishal should know, as a venture capitalist he is constantly interacting and advising young founders on the challenges of startup leadership.  In addition, Vishal was a former GE executive who can see the distinction between entrepreneurial and corporate leadership.

Vishal Agarwal is the bestselling author of Give to Get: A Senior Leader’s Guide to Navigating Corporate Life, and has studied the dynamics of why some startups succeed and others fail.  Interestingly, he sees the most successful entrepreneurs as “servant leaders,” those who serve the enterprise vs. self-serve.  He has discerned several key principles that distinguish successful startup leaders.

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Five Coaching Practices to Accelerate The Growth Of Others

By Kevin Cashman, originally posted to his Forbes blog, Pause Point on January 29, 2018. 

All traditions throughout the ages have had exceptional coaches.  We may have called them advisors, sages, elders, wisdom-keepers, teachers, mentors, shamans, gurus, or masters.  No matter what their titles, we have always turned to them to help us look at our lives and behaviors from deeper and broader vantage points.  These coaches helped their “coachees” – seekers, disciples, students, apprentices – see the world with fresh eyes, transcend what they thought was possible, and glimpse their fullest potential.

We know from our global research that most people rate “coaching and developing others” among the top three most important leadership competencies, according to 360° assessments.  However, despite the rated importance of this critical competency, it actually scores as the lowest practiced competency around the world.  No other leadership competency has such as wide gap between importance and practice.  We agree that coaching and development are critical to transformative leadership.  However, there is just one major problem:  we don’t practice it!  Why?  Leaders often tell us that they do not have enough time; they do not know a precise, proven process; and/or they feel it will slow down their immediate performance.  Regardless of the reasons, learning a pragmatic, straightforward methodology to coach and develop yourself and others is extremely critical to high-performing leadership.

For coaching to have a lasting, transformative impact, three interrelated foundations need to be constructed:  Building Awareness, Building Commitment, and Building Practice.  If all three are present and operating, breakthroughs will occur, and growth will be sustained.  If any one of the three is absent, the results will dissipate over time.  You may learn the best techniques and disciplines to practice, but if you lack commitment, you won’t continue your efforts.  Similarly, all the enthusiasm and commitment in the world won’t get you far if you don’t adhere to the right practices.  And without awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, how will you know what to commit to or what you need to do?

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The Five Principles Of Leadership Improv

By Kevin Cashman, originally posted on his Forbes blog, Pause Point on December 15, 2017. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The world belongs to the energetic.”  While true, in our volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous world, it may be even more true that “the world belongs to the most agile.” Our ability to learn on the fly and deliver in first-time conditions has never been more critical.  I marvel at clients who can flex, adapt and perform in new and novel situations.  Like that, I also deeply admire comedians adept at improvisation, who can seemingly create out of the unexpected, the new and the different.  Fascinated by improv, I have studied it at a distance for years trying to understand how it works and often reflected:  Is there a process here or does it just depend on lightning fast out-of-the-box comedic thinkers?  Are there connections between improv and the change agility needed by leaders today?

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Five Sustainable Success Levers

By Kevin Cashman, originally posted to his Forbes blog Pause Point on October 20, 2017. 

Every leader faces a daunting aspiration:  Generate success now and then continuously accelerate it.  It is hard enough to be successful and even more challenging to keep it going in today’s dynamic, change-rich world.  As tough as our mandate is, I would suggest a sustainable simple success formula:  purpose generates success, performance sustains it and ethics insures the first two endure.

Purpose is the creative force that elevates leaders and teams to move from short-term success to long-term significance.  It engages and energizes workforces, customers, vendors, distributors, communities and stakeholders around a common mission, something bigger than products and larger than profit.  It is the foundational meaning that unleashes latent energy and motivation as it generates enduring value.  Purpose answers the essential question:  Why is it so important that we exist?  Ethics answers the enduring question:  How are we in continuous service to our constituencies?    

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Seven Guiding Principles For True Leadership Success

By Kevin Cashman, originally posted on his Forbes.com blog, Pause Point, on September 5, 2017. 

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Taking a true measure of our leadership success is no easy task. Do we measure net profit? Gross revenue? Customer satisfaction and loyalty? EBITDA? Quarterly results? Stock price? Social responsibility? While all these yardsticks are crucial, do they really get to the essence of what sustains leadership for the long run?

Recently, a 70-year-old CEO reflected with me, “In the end, the real measure of success will unlikely be our accomplishments or achievements. Rather, our most authentic measure will likely be the lasting impact we had on the lives of people.” I doubt many of us will lament in our final hour, “If only I had pushed for one more percentage point of profit in my last quarter!” Likely we will reflect on our key relationships, on the people we have impacted, loved, grown and been influenced by.

In the 75+ year Grant and Glueck study at Harvard, the longest continuous research study with four research leaders to date, there has been one consistent finding across the decades, across generations and across geographies:  that the true measure of success and satisfaction rests on one thing, relationships.

In a leadership context, relationships play out in a multitude of ways in teams, collegial connections, culture and customers. In many ways, all leadership is in relationship, a way to add enduring value with and for people. However, I posit that there is one fundamental measure to our leadership effectiveness:  how many leaders have you produced?

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The Value of Stepping Back to Achieve More

The Value of Stepping Back to Achieve More

Follow this link to Kevin’s periodic contributions to Forbes.com:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kevincashman/2012/11/05/thepauseprinciple/