Konusuke Matsushita said, ‘think like an entrepreneur, not a hired hand.’ At the Matsushita Electric Company in Japan, he created an entrepreneurial climate that was conducive to seeking opportunity, advancing innovation, developing leadership and giving service. It was this culture that led to the creation of brands like Technics and Panasonic.
In today’s increasingly competitive business environment, the degree to which entrepreneurial leadership exists within organisations will be in direct proportion to the organisation’s growth. Entrepreneurial ideas clearly have a greater certainty of being profitable and sustaining growth when supported by management attributes. Less accepted is the idea that executives must develop entrepreneurial thinking.
The reality for most established organisations is that the spirit of agility is ignored, particularly when times are good. It is only an impending crisis that may cause a revisit to them.
When organisations become somewhat blinkered and influenced by too much success, rather than motivated by basic principles, the bottom line will always suffer. And when the bottom line suffers it is because of the top line forgetting to apply the basics.
With the sudden sharp economic downturn at the very beginning of the century, high-tech organisations that claimed to be customer focused and agile were caught out. They tended to believe more in their technology rather than their own common sense and basic management principles.
It seems to me these companies relied too much on forecasting systems. Cisco had to write off a $2 billion inventory, Toshiba laid off 18,000 of their ‘best assets’, and Nortel lost $20 billion in the fourth quarter of 2000.
Entrepreneurial leadership is about encouraging the spirit of others. Now, more than ever, a burden of responsibility rests on organisations to educate, stretch and challenge their people constantly.
Dampening down enthusiasm or holding back an initiative because it is going too fast for us impedes progress. Yes, mistakes may be made along the way, but mistakes are the best measure of progress and growth as we learn more and develop the courage to make big decisions.
If the engineer Charles House had not ignored David Packard’s order to stop working on a current project he believed in, the high-quality monitor used in manned moon landings and countless surgical operations would not have been completed and HP would never have received the millions of dollars in revenue that it did.
If the future demands more entrepreneurial organizations, then future leaders must ensure that they encourage others to develop their pioneering spirit.
The role of an entrepreneurial leader is to be part of the dynamic responsible for creating a corporation that encourages all of its people to learn, develop and apply these qualities by acting in an entrepreneurial way.
Executives committed to being authentic leaders must ask if they genuinely encourage their people to take initiatives and go further than might be expected of them when dealing with a request from a customer, a brief from a client, or when supporting a colleague. They must ask if they always look beyond the horizon themselves.
Business is the great modern arena for us to express our vocation and develop our potential. Reinstalling the spirit of entrepreneurship into skilled management is the most effective way to reassure all stakeholders, re-energise leaders and re-cultivate the reward of profitable growth.
Rediscovering passion will redefine, revitalise and repeatedly ensure future success.