Leaders and entrepreneurs are one in the same. While the job titles that typically accompany leaders are different from those associated with entrepreneurs, effective leaders and effective entrepreneurs must employ the same management skills. Leadership is listening to followers, learning from what has been heard, and then making a decision based on what was learned (Class Notes, Week 2). Entrepreneurs are defined as someone who uses resources to make change (Class Notes, Week 2). But followers are a resource to a leader and using what you learn from them to make a decision, effectively makes change. The reason classes and majors are being created to teach leadership and entrepreneurship show the growing demand for college students to learn something new. Consider Oprah Winfrey and Mahatma Gandhi. Oprah is thought of as an iconic entrepreneur and Gandhi is one of the greatest political leaders of all time. Yet, neither of them would have succeeded had they not used both entrepreneurial elements with adaptive and team leadership styles. Therefore, the education for future leaders and entrepreneurs should be integrated into one field of study.
Both leaders and entrepreneurs need to be able to quickly adapt to new surroundings and circumstances. Adaptive leadership comes from “people’s demands for trustworthy leadership” (Northouse 196). Adaptive leadership theory can be defined three different ways. First there are intrapersonal leaders, who “incorporate [their own] self-knowledge, self-regulation, and self-concept” into how they lead (Northouse 196). Second are interpersonal leaders, who find that “authenticity emerges from the interactions” because of the relationships created between the leaders and followers (Northouse 196). Lastly, the developmental leaders see “authentic leadership as something that can be nurtured” over a lifetime of events (Northouse 196). In general, authentic leadership theory “focuses on whether leadership is genuine and ‘real’” by using two approaches (Northouse 196). First there is the practical approach where internally authentic leaders follow five internal values – purpose, values, relationships, self-discipline, and heart – that are then reflected outwardly onto their followers in the forms of passion, behavior, connectedness, consistency, and compassion (Northouse 198). Next is the theoretical approach where critical life events create personal reflection within a leader causing self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, balanced processing, relational transparency (Northouse 202). These internal feelings then guide how a leader chooses to interact with their followers. What is beneficial about educating people in adaptive leadership is that “authentic values and behaviors can be developed over time” (Northouse 207). So, there is an ability for any person to become an authentic leader; but research about the success of authentic leadership is not yet proved completely effective (Northouse 207). The theory does give “board guidelines” making it easy to both follow and teach in the future (Northouse 206).
Today, team leadership is pivotal to the success of an organization. Instead of hierarchies and ladders, every team member is expected to take charge when necessary; using “lateral decision making as opposed to the traditional vertical decision making” (364). This is a strength of the team leadership theory because it has a better understanding of the changing roles of leaders and followers (383). Meaning, members “need a wide repertoire of communication skills to monitor and take appropriate action … [and] actions or skills to meet the team’s diverse needs” (364). This is a common leadership style seen in the entrepreneurial start-up culture where teams tend to be smaller with fewer resources. A team-based structure keeps an organization competitive by giving them the ability to respond and adapt quickly to changes (364). Team leadership starts with leaders deciding if they should or should not take action within their group or outside of their group. If they decided to take action within their group, they need to decide if they are intervening on behalf of a task or member relationships. The success of team leadership is measured by the team’s performance and development. Performance is measured by clear goals, a results-driven structure, competent team members, unified commitment and a collaborative climate (369). Whereas development is measured by the standards of excellence, external support and recognition, and principled leadership (369). Now, this can be difficult to accomplish because the theory requires all team members to have the leadership qualities, instead of a traditional theory which would only require the leader to hold leadership qualities. This is an example of why teaching leadership and entrepreneurship is important for future generations to be successful.
Gandhi is thought of as the iconic political leader. Yet, he was also an innovator. He was involved in policy work, yet he would not hold political office like a true policy entrepreneur. He traveled across the world advocating for the rights of his people while keeping his followers “involved… in his exploits directly” (Willner 118). He believed in lateral decisions and uniting as a group, like a team leader. Gandhi had a clear goal and he found a way to achieve it, by creating satyagraha. Satyagraha was “ a novel concept in the history of political protest [at the time,] … [it was a] set of principles [for] overcoming a wrong or an evil situation by finding and holding to the truth and by refusing to submit to violence” (Willner 119). He took his personal experience and lead others with it; while also finding authenticity in training others to follow satyagraha. He found “powerful results in the absence of power” and if someone only categorized Gandhi as a political leader they would miss the creative and ground-breaking ideas he brought to the table (Willner 118).
Oprah is one of America’s best-known entrepreneurs. She broke boundaries by becoming the first black women to be a billionaire in 2003 (cite). When thinking of billionaires, entrepreneurship comes to mind. But Oprah was am much of a leader as she was an entrepreneur. She follows an intrapersonal authentic style of leadership by using her previous experiences with sexual abuse and impoverished childhood to connect with her followers (cite). She was able to maintain and grow her followers on morning talk shows because of her “open, warm-hearted personal style” of connecting with people (cite). Oprah’s followership became so vast she expanded her branding to include a television network, magazine, and a seat on the board at the company Weight Watchers (cite). Oprah would not have been able to accomplish all of this work on her own. She had to be parts of teams to work on her branding, on the board of Weight Watchers, and as a co-host on her tv shows. Her ability to grow her following is what made her such a successful entrepreneur. If she had not been a strong leader none of her entrepreneurial ventures would have found success or profit.
Fifty years ago, leaders and entrepreneurs were on two different planets. But, with the way millennials are running companies and the start-up culture is starting to be brought into already established institutions, the lines between leadership and entrepreneurship are non-existent. Both need to be able to listen to their followers, work in collaborative environments, and make strong well-informed decisions. They both have clear goals, visions for the future, and ideas of how to accomplish those goals. The common thread between adaptive leadership theory and team leadership theory is the demand for them. Both theories are relatively new to leadership textbooks because they were demanded for by the changing workplace today. Team leadership is a logical extension from the Davidson style of education. Liberal arts schools pride themselves on collaborative learning spaces where students can work together to produce something great. Why should a team in an organization not do the same? Effective leaders and entrepreneurs need to be able to adapt to every changing situation, to remain relevant in the new economy. With globalization expanding the number of customers and clients, this also opens up an organization to more competition. It doesn’t matter what kind of job you have in the future; these skills are something any person needs to be successful. That is why it is vital students are taught about leadership and entrepreneurship together, so they learn how to utilize both for the most success instead of trying to separate them as unrelated to one another.
As an elite liberal arts institution, Davidson should focus on preparing students for jobs and roles that do not yet exist. The best way to accomplish this is by exposing students to knowledge about how others have succeeded and providing them with the tools to be able to nboth create and lead their own fields of work. Davidson should merge the education of leadership and entrepreneurship by having an Innovative Leadership Interdisciplinary Minor with the help of both the Chidsey Center for Leadership Development and the Hurt Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The minor should provide basic classes on leadership theory, start-up business culture, and business ethics, while also including one required summer internship program. Along with this major, the Chidsey Center and the Hurt Hub should remain separate programs. But instead, they should work together to reach more students by providing more opportunities for learning. Chidsey should teach more than the 20-ish Chidsey fellows about the importance of leadership in all forms of life. They should have programs and workshops available to all students focusing on innovation in unconventional areas and leading through uncertain times. The Hurt Hub should continue to offer community and student evening classes about start-ups, but students should be able to get some form of academic credit or certificate for completing them. Along with that, they should expand their programs to include people who want to learn about leading teams, leading start-ups, and being active in the entrepreneurial community. If Chidsey and the Hurt Hub co-sponsor events about standing out in start-ups and intrapreneurship, then there would be a better understanding of the similarities between leadership and entrepreneurship on Davidson’s campus. Neither Oprah or Gandhi would have been able to be half as successful if they had not employed both leadership theory and entrepreneurial techniques. We should learn from them and prepare our students to be just as successful and world changing.
Bullock, G. “Week 2: Understanding Leadership and Entrepreneurship.” Davidson College. September 4, 2019.
Northouse, Peter G. Leadership: Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 2016.
“Oprah Winfrey.” Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, September 24, 2019. https://www.biography.com/media-figure/oprah-winfrey.
Willner, Ann Ruth. The Spellbinders: Charismatic Political Leadership. Yale Univeristy Press.