- Posted by alpina_admin
- On 19th May 2017
- 0 Comments
Entrepreneurial leaders are today’s rock stars. Celebrity business people, from Richard Branson through to Mark Zuckerberg are revered worldwide for their entrepreneurial qualities, and today’s business students dream of emulating them.
Most businesses, however, are strangled by their own recruiting processes. Very few hiring firms have a robust, effective means of identifying and separating genuine entrepreneurs from other highly skilled candidates. Without this structure, they resort to low-value stereotypes.
Research suggests that there is a great deal of crossover between leaders who are great entrepreneurs and those who are great general managers. But the former group possesses three stand-out characteristics; a powerful ambition to instigate and take ownership of new projects; a natural tendency to excel in uncertain environments; and an innate ability to persuade others.
Interestingly, however, this same research has also found that many of the things that we associate with entrepreneurialism are pure stereotype and simply don’t hold true!
If the war on talent wasn’t difficult enough, when it comes to seeking out genuine entrepreneurs at the leadership level (and those that will grow your business, not destroy it), your pool of suitable talent is going to be fairly small. But don’t risk opting for second best. This approach will help you to pinpoint the right individual to take your business forward.
1. Ask the first, fundamental question
Do you actually need an entrepreneurial leader for your business? Yes, every business naturally assumes that it does, but not all organisations need one at every stage of their life cycle. Remember too that your organisation needs to be set up to allow an entrepreneur to thrive and do exactly what you have brought them in to do.
Know what leadership challenges you are trying to solve through the hire. An entrepreneur may be the right leader if you are looking to turn around your business or launch from scratch. Less so for business as usual.
2. Forget stereotypes
Entrepreneurs are a nuanced bunch who do not usually conform to stereotypes. Yes, they are curious, open to new learning and experiences and comfortable with risk. But they aren’t necessarily risk seekers and highly creative types. Interestingly too, they aren’t necessarily more ambitious on a personal level than other leaders but they do prefer to own projects and to have control over the resulting product or service.
3. Challenge expectations
This has profound implications for the questions that you ask at interview stage. Look for candidates that choose paths to maximise learning, exploration and opportunity as opposed to ‘safer’ courses that minimise risk and personal exposure and which maintain the status quo. Many entrepreneurs take surprising decisions during their careers and stand out for failing to conform to the expectations of them. Another sign is the individual questioning style of your candidate in the interview. An entrepreneur will be the initiator in conversation, show confidence, ask strong questions and exude a sense of energy and enthusiasm. They will not feel as though they are reading off a script!
4. Probe for hands-on attitude
One other trait of entrepreneurial leaders is that they are naturally hands-on and thrive in the heart of the action. They will want to be viewed as the enabler; the person who ‘makes stuff happen’. This is very different from more traditional leaders who look for the trappings of power including large offices, expensive cars and impressive titles. An entrepreneur will want to be at the centre of the business, experiencing everything as it happens. So, with a candidate in front of you, tease out a sense as to whether they are a joiner or a founder. Are they a hands-on artisan, or a corner office power player. Ask too, where they find their sense of pride and which business leaders they admire.
5. Assess their sales orientation
One stereotype that does ring true, however, is the ability to sell ice to the Eskimos. Entrepreneurs are natural salespeople, because of their passion, vision and belief. They are invariably persuasive and confident and will love to sell a vision. You will be able to assess this within the interview because the right candidate will have no problem in persuading you that they are the best possible fit for the job.
By understanding these subtleties as you approach the interview, and refining your interview questions accordingly, you can really seek out the true entrepreneurs. The perfect candidate is out there. Make them yours.
This article was written by Gary Reeman, Managing Director, AlpinaSearch. If you’d welcome advice on hiring entrepreneurial leadership talent in your technology business, head over to http://alpinasearch.com/clients/