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The Entrepreneural Manager Print E-mail

ImageForty-five  years of participating in the contest of success and failure, it has given me a pretty rough idea of what anentrepreneur or high achievers’ profile would resemble. Most people think that entrepreneurs are energetic guys running their own business. They certainly can be that. But entrepreneurs can also exist within ordinary groups of people.

Who is the entrepreneur? The Oxford Dictionary  defines the word as ‘a person who organizes and manages a commercial undertaking’. To me entrepreneurs are those who understand there is little difference between obstacles and opportunities and are able to turn both to their advantage. Their willingness to seize the initiative sets them apart from their contemporaries. Entrepreneurs do not sit on their haunches, waiting for something to happen. They make things happen.

I learnt a long time ago that people who felt good about themselves usually succeed what they set out to achieve. They take charge of the pathways they draw out for themselves and follow them through with slight pragmatic adjustments along the way. Rarely are they dogmatic and are ready to listen to other people’s opinions. Like a wave surfer, they ride in control of life’s waves and not just being washed ashore.
These people are warm and they make lasting relationships. You do not feel that you are just a pawn to be used and sacrificed at will when working with them. They view people of having intrinsic worth and goodness and value them for the uniqueness of their ability. They posses a higher sense of human responsibility for, and the ability to respond to the needs of others.

When things go wrong, they take full responsibility. When things go right they give the credit to others. They do not see themselves as perfect and welcome constructive criticism. They listen to others and use their constructive criticisms to initiate a course of action to improve whatever needs to be improved. To them leadership and relationship are inseparable quantities and they understand that any attempt to lead others from a position of superiority can only be short-lived.

The “I am more powerful than thou” model of getting things done buys only temporary reward. They understand too that craving or enjoying power diminishes power, while empowering others benefits everyone. To them leadership is not about power or getting people to do or be anything. It is not being obeyed or honored but rather an acknowledgement of the potential in others and developing them to their full potential.

At its heart, their style of leadership is about trust, first of self, then of others. They never attempt to intimidate, dominate or manipulate others. In this way they inspire  and lead the way by developing a magnetic force that attracts others to them.

They understand the need to have confidence and flexibility in implementing their actions. They understand too that lack of confidence is not a disease but a symptom.  To them these self-perceived negatives would rob one of a healthy ego. They believe that working on them with any degree of success is bound to improve their self-image.  They are prepared for the dedicated and hard mental work and will swim upstream against the current of mediocrity. They are very aware that nothing worthwhile comes easy. They do not allow the lack of self-confidence to overwhelm them. They believe in themselves.

The entrepreneurial manager is  captain of his ship. In rough waters, he shows no signs of panic to the crew but re-assure them that he is still in control of the ship and  will bring them to safety. Any sign of panic, he  would have affirmed the crew’s worst fear that the boat was about to sink and he would not get a response  to orders to keep the boat afloat.

In grave situations or in any situation whatsoever, he knows that the only thing worse than a wrong decision is no decision. It would signal panic. His staff, partners or colleagues would  say, “Now we’re really in trouble. He can’t make up his mind. We have pooled our thoughts together and we still have no direction”. Instead of a group of trained people able to tackle a serious but resolvable problem, he would instead be having  a line of frantic people heading for the nearest exit. 

People of this kind are risk takers and not gamblers. They are quick to recognize opportunities as they come. With their knowledge and skills built over the years and the pool of talents whom they have built around them, they secure all the angles of every opportunity that presents itself. They approach each idea thinking, “How can I make this work for me?” They then decide, based on knowledge and skills and not on a game of chance.

They develop a highly sensory goal vision. They seemed to know precisely what they want. This becomes their driving force. Like the artist or sculptor they envision what they want and go about doing it. They have a total recall of their vision and they develop this sense and feel with perfect clarity. They pre-live their achievement and move to action by the driving hunger to achieve.

Fear of failure is a universal feeling. What makes the entrepreneurial manager different is that he learns to conquer fear. The fear of failure inhibits one to try ones’ hand on something new.  This fear of failure exerts a paralyzing effect on all of us. Disciplining himself to hard and smart work and keeping his dreams alive and fresh helps overcome his fear of failure or fear of any kind.

Time competency is one of the hallmarks of the high achieving entrepreneur. He knows that working from 9 to 5 does not exist for him. Eight hours does not give him enough  time to chalk up his scores. To be a winner, weekends become part of his regular work schedule. His hunger to win allows him to transform every negative into a positive. He conditions himself and those dependant on him for the effects this would have on their life-style by allocating quality time with them. In spite of  all this he maintains a high capacity for the family, love and respect for them. One begins to wonder where do the high achievers get their inspiration. Do these traits  form part of their genetic makeup? More likely it could be part of the  culture they were immersed in and the training and exposure to appropriate reading materials.

In a survey done by a Business School of a University here recently, they found that high achievers are avid readers.  This is not surprising as ideas beget ideas.  High achievers have a wide range of interests.  To them, reading  something of substance, something of value, something that teaches them  new distinctions every day, is more important than having a meal.

High achievers seem to have a high level of energy. They have the ability to control physical and mental stress. Soothing music, meditation and physical workouts  seemed to be their mainstay in their health program in stress control. They acknowledge that physical vitality can transform the quality of  their lives.  Their physical destiny is intimately related to their mental, emotional, financial and relationship destinies.  In fact, they are aware that this will determine whether they have a destiny at all.

The fusion and the synthesis to bring into focus the elements of body, mind and material characteristics, is having basic universal spiritual values. High achievers recognize this. It gives them purpose, the energy and the internal driving force to fulfill their purpose.


Acknowledgemenrt: The article was written and contributed by Tan Sri Dato' Dr. Haji Ani Arope (an illustrious La Sallian)

Tan Sri Ani was a former Chairman of the National Savings Bank, Malaysia; Group Chief Executive of Kumpulan Guthrie; Chairman and CEO of Tenanga Nasional Berhad (National Electricity Board). He is currently Chairman, Senior Advisor and Director of several corporate organizations and Adjunct Professor of Universiti Utara Malaysia.

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