Shehan explains the project and clearly says that it needs to be broken into manageable tasks that have to be completed in stages. Managing a team of 21 individuals, the last thing he wants to do is to micro-manage. However, he finds himself wondering why his very capable and hardworking team is still unable to take initiative and work independently. Shehan is aware of the ‘spoon feeding’ mentality of the education system and tuition cultures, but how is this lack of initiative possible with people who know better and the ones who have being recruited for their exposure to different systems of education and training. When he first spoke to me, we both thought it was a problem with the mindset due to their style of learning and normative management styles they have been exposed to in their early careers, where managers command and employees do. We were both wrong. It was a personal round of interviews that helps us to unearth the true picture. Leaving the organizational culture barriers and past experience aside, we find that they carry similar entrepreneurial genes that make them naturally adopt and develop certain preferences and not others when it comes to taking initiative in different areas. We subsequently find the 8 member team that Shehan has selected amongst others, is way too similar with too many specialists and innovators. What it needed more, was builders and maybe one or two opportunists.
A builder, at best, is driven and focused and is willing to take risks. He will be willing and able to build up a business from the scratch, and will prefer playing a prominent part in every aspect of the business’ journey, such as conception, funding, growing and selling. A builder is a good storyteller by nature, which makes him ideal for business ventures such as start ups, turnarounds and growth companies. Whilst enjoying solving problems, he likes overtaking competition.
The opportunist is a born promoter who likes to plug into existing systems and sell it better. He is often willing to work tirelessly as well as travel, socialize and enjoy life. He considers work as a mean to an end and strongly believes in being at the right place at the right time. The fear of losing out on a deal will lead him to leverage time to make money fast. An opportunist will thrive on massive paybacks and short timelines but also be very easily frustrated when things are not moving along fast enough. He also tends to display characteristics of impulsiveness, procrastination, short-term focus and laziness.
A specialist is someone analytical, methodical and systematic. He will stick to one industry and build up expertise quickly while focusing on the core business, not easily distracted by new business opportunities and money making ventures. At work they will work hard to deliver high-quality products, earn the customer loyalty, and build community with other specialists. Not being a big fan of risk, he will calculate every possible outcome of his actions.
For the innovator, creative bursts that come from emotional experiences and their desire to change the world will be what fuel their work. He tends to work well when he is given the freedom and the resources to develop ideas but might not have a real interest in running a company or business.
The presentation of the above research from the work of Joe Abraham, is not done with the intention of putting people in to boxes. It is a combination of several types that ultimately decides one’s entrepreneurial style, for example when we factor the secondary preference, an
‘opportunist- builder’ will have a limitless vision in building capacity that will also include weaknesses such as, tendencies to use people, over-promotion and over- obsession for businesses growth.
Why is entrepreneurial makeup important to a team and in the selection of individuals to projects and even organizations at large? Our preferences as entrepreneurs, decides how we work in a team, take initiative, how we build, specialize, see opportunities and innovate within this team and within stipulated guidelines. Understanding our entrepreneurial preferences is important in understanding our working style. Not limiting this knowledge only to people who choose to work independently, we should evaluate ourselves as ‘intrepreneurs’ who work as entrepreneurs within small or large companies.
Progressive companies require independent thinkers and doers, with a hunger for growth within themselves and in their careers, who will not only take the company to the next level, but an entire industry to greater heights. A country can only grow to the extent that its people are willing to grow and take ownership for their continuous progress. Some of us might think that we are stuck in a system, be it a family, company, industry or a country. But intrepreneurs and entrepreneurs think differently in any system; they are relentlessly optimistic about knowing that there is a better solution.
Of course it is up to the companies to create a culture where these intrepreneurs could thrive, as it requires the active cooperation of both leadership and culture. Think from top to bottom and bottom to top; think divergent and then convergent; companies with people with passion, resilience, strong sense of self, flexibility and vision, no matter how big or small the project or endeavor maybe, will stand in good stead.
The author of ‘From Crisis to Character’, Rozaine Cooray is a Business Psychologist specialized in organizational culture analytics and HR Coaching. She can be contacted on[email protected]