3 Success Skills for the Modern Entrepreneur

by | Blog

Today’s entrepreneurs are a new breed, who are both inventing and navigating new rules of competition, change, and workforce expectations. The skills required are vastly different from even 5 years ago, due to impacts of globalization, the internet, and generational value shifts.

The modern workplace requires new ways of leading and balancing forces:

  • Fostering stability within a world of constant change.
  • Creating clear strategy and direction, with remaining flexible.
  • Developing strong leadership and structure, with empowering people.
  • Building culture while delivering results.

Modern entrepreneurs are pioneers of this new era. We will blaze new trails that forever alters the way people work together to accomplish a mission, make money, balance work and home lives, and create meaning beyond simply the quest for efficiency and productivity.

Smart thought leaders such as Thomas Friedman, Malcolm Gladwell, Frederic Laloux, Ken Wilber, and Seth Godin have effectively provided detailed proof and analyses of WHY these shifts are happening. Our focus at Culture Jump Start, is providing the skills you need – the WHAT to do and HOW to do it, to successful reinvent the New Era of Work.

Captains of business ships today need to master the concept of vision alignment, teamwork as the foundation of performance, and collaboration across functions. This is how you foster a disciplined (not bureaucratic) approach to change and innovation in today’s companies – at any size, in every industry.

Here are three key successful skills leaders need to master: 

1) Vision Alignment. Any change – a new job, a new team, a new strategy – begins with an urgent, passionate desire in one person for something different. During uncertainty and ambiguity, choosing a clear mission is Job One. The mature change leader knows the real work is creating a groundswell among everyone in the organization to share an urgent, passionate desire for change. Without that, not much moves. With it, marvelous things are created. Leaders usually underestimate how much it takes to create alignment toward a mission and goal with their peers and with employees. When done poorly, chaos and confusion reign as projects cascade through the organization and compete for a shrinking pool of resources. When done well, a palpable excitement can be felt about the possibilities, and people’s energy and commitment grow.

2) Committing to a Partnership between Leaders & Employees. One of my favorite phrases is “How do I motivate my people to get them to act like an owner?” To which I usually reply “Your people already have motivation. You just haven’t tapped it properly.” Motivation is the alchemy of shared purpose, desire, and mastery of skill. When I understand something, WANT it, and see that I CAN accomplish it – I am motivated. This takes connection, relationship, and dialogue – but most leaders try to “motivate” people through methods of preaching versus listening. Or, through money (which only works if your employees are at base subsistence level. Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – once survival needs are met, people seek to meet higher needs, such as belonging, achievement and creativity.) Regardless of your company size, industry, or rate of change, the capability to adapt requires a shared partnership between leaders and employees. Leaders’ role is to foster direction and alignment, and seek employees’ voice in determining the course of change. To foster commitment in others, leaders must demonstrate their own commitment. Not understanding what it means to sponsor change, many executives announce and fund initiatives, hand them off to project teams, and move onto the next initiative – leaving key projects to taxi endlessly around lanes of pushback and resistance, never gaining liftoff. A mature change leader understands the importance of being a visible beacon and role model for change with their peers and with employees. When leadership visibility and support is strong, new habits can be reinforced and rewarded, and old habits and patterns have a harder time resurfacing.

3) Do less, well. The most demoralizing situation in any organization is the sense of running faster and falling behind. This is a very common situation in today’s turbo-overload. When leaders are not disciplined to perform #1 or #2 above, we pile more on people’s plates without removing anything. This results in an overstuffed plate, which inevitably means stuff falls off. The mature change leader understands their most important task is to relentlessly prioritize against a clear strategy. Making constant, conscious decisions about what NOT to do, and to stop or eliminate a project or initiative. It’s better to decide what is taken off, rather than leaving it to chance or not having it aligned with where you are headed. When prioritization is an ongoing process, it’s easier to help employees know what to do differently during change.

These three success factors are rarely done well inside companies where leaders and employees are overwhelmed and struggling with balance on a day-to-day basis. Appropriate attention to these areas helps teams and organizations consistently adopt behaviors that support fruitful, fulfilled and fun workplaces.


Get started today with our do-it-yourself Changemaker’s Guide.

Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson has led culture change initiatives with fortune 500 companies for over 15 years. She has written two books about culture change, and is an expert about why culture matters (hint: it’s the difference between your company’s future vision and present organizational realities). Contact Lisa > >