Entrepreneurial Leadership

Venetia Kontogouris
Venetia Kontogouris
Senior Managing Director, 
Trident Capital

Several academicians have in fact identified three traits that exemplify successful entrepreneurial leadership: proactiveness - not waiting for circumstances to define what you are able to do but rather anticipating changing currents in the market before they happen; innovativeness - the ability to recognize changing needs and develop new ideas and solve new and old problems in new ways; and prudent risk taking - the ability to take calculated risks in developing a new idea or going after a new market. There are many established companies that have tried to systematize or institutionalize one or all of these characteristics and the most successful have been able to embrace all three, usually because the CEO is himself an entrepreneurial leader. However, balance among the three is very important as there are many examples where companies have failed through an overemphasis on one of these characteristics – AIG and Enron come to mind for having tried to be too innovative and taking too many risks.

The successful CEO is someone who not only embodies all three of these characteristics, but also someone who can adapt to a changing environment and temper the autocratic and sometimes dictatorial behavior required of a leader. At the same time, a CEO needs to instill loyalty and drive among the employees who are more responsive to, and now even demand consensus building and group empowerment rather than simply being told what to do. It is fortuitous that many of the recent technology innovations, such as Facebook, Twitter, the iPad, Saleforce’s chatter, and cloud computing to name only a few, make it easier for companies to foster innovation and risk taking within the organization while at the same time instilling the discipline and accountability that is essential for long term success.
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