The standout qualities of successful entrepreneur are not always considered to be synonymous with those of a great leader. More frequently entrepreneurs can be viewed as headstrong, even aggressive – and in the startup world, somewhat of a lone wolf. This fearless nature can, however, bring great rewards – and also create a strong leader.
The psyche of an entrepreneur is a complex entity. Studies have actually found entrepreneurs to exhibit many of the characteristics identified in psychopaths. These qualities include “fearlessness, insensitivity to punishment and boldness.” While the personality traits commonly connected with psychopaths might not be those you would assume to be conducive to a great leader, these qualities mean entrepreneurs take risks, and are more likely to succeed in a fiercely competitive business world.
When considering some of the most successful leaders and businessmen of our time these qualities are visible. Steve Jobs was reportedly a loner, with a brash character, ruthlessly ambitious and persuasive – and wildly successful. Google’s Larry Page reportedly faced great criticism, but never swayed from his ultimate goals. And Richard Branson has consistently embraced controversy, claiming “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”
The ability to ignore negative consequences, is one notable feature of the entrepreneurial spirit. Where others might be wary of launching new ventures, entrepreneur push on. This is one example where the functional outcomes of these personality traits show themselves to be of great advantage. However, balance is key. How can an entrepreneur effectively use these assets, and translate them into effective leadership?
Business Insider reported two personality traits that psychologists claim to be predictors of effective leadership; namely extroversion and conscientiousness. This article cites analysis from the University of Notre Dame – claiming extroversion is important in the “sociability and enthusiasm” of great leaders, whereas conscientiousness comes into play when translating this to an organization, in the work ethics applied.
For an entrepreneur, leading a new startup in today’s turbulent ecosystem, what strategies can enable a great leader to effectively balance the two for maximum results?