The Spirit of the Entrepreneur
By Major General John Gronski (USA, Ret.)
Author of Iron-Sharpened Leadership
The Engine of Our Economy
Recently I provided a leadership presentation to a large industrial group on the east coast. The attendees to this conference were CEOs of manufacturing companies that operated factories throughout the United States. I opened by thanking these entrepreneurs and business owners for the jobs they created to keep the economic engine of our nation running strong.
Entrepreneurs Create Opportunity
I do not think entrepreneurs get enough credit for the good they do for our country by creating jobs. If not for the risk many of these exceptional men and women take, there would be less opportunity for many Americans to make a good life for themselves and support their families.
In the 40 years I spent in the Army at various leadership positions leading teams as small as four and commanding units as large as 15,000, I have been the beneficiary of leadership training from the tactical to the strategic level. One common theme that came up is the notion that successful military leaders have an entrepreneurial spirit.
Attributes of an Entrepreneur
An entrepreneurial spirit includes attributes such as the willingness to accept prudent risk, demonstrating initiative and establishing an environment where the people feel comfortable taking initiative, creativity, imagination, and a service orientation.
Entrepreneurial spirit also includes seeing opportunities that others may not see and seizing those opportunities. It also includes a sense of curiosity in terms of being curious about people and having an intellectual curiosity to learn more. Someone with an entrepreneurial spirit seeks to leave their comfort zone and try new things that may cause discomfort and a certain amount of stress.
Entrepreneurs are skilled at developing and sustaining relationships with others. They have a way of making other people feel important and they treat everyone with dignity and respect from the entry level employee to the head of an organization. Entrepreneurs can communicate well, and they follow the platinum rule which means they treat others the way they wish to be treated. Stated another way, they do not treat everyone equally, they treat everyone individually.
Military Leaders as Entrepreneurs
I believe the military develops an entrepreneurial spirit in its leaders. That is one reason why military Veterans not only make great employees, but they make fantastic business owners and entrepreneurs. Fred Smith, founder of FEDEX, is one of the most noteworthy Veteran entrepreneurs. Alex Gorsky, the longtime CEO of J&J is another Veteran who has made it to the top in the world of business. Aside from these two noteworthy individuals, many other Veterans have started thousands of flourishing companies, providing jobs for tens of thousands of families throughout the United States. They are also excellent leaders who know how to take care of their employees.
Path to Success
Whether you run your own business, work for an enterprise, serve in the military, work in support of a non-profit organization, or engage in some other endeavor, developing an entrepreneurial sprit will help you to be successful in whatever path you choose.