By Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner
Labelling mindsets and behaviours as ‘entrepreneurial’ is an interesting notion as it suggests that there are specific instincts that separate self-starters from those who aren’t. This categorisation is a bit simplistic, in my opinion. As I read more interviews and biographies of ‘entrepreneurs’, the one thing that consistently struck me was the sheer diversity of backgrounds, profile types, attitudes and outlooks across this group who were meant to share similar key traits.
Adapting to change
2020 has tested the human race like no other, it has forced the entire world to adapt and be flexible to change. From a business context, one of the key visible changes, certainly in the UK was the shift to home or remote working. This working practice, which many companies had tentatively dipped their toes into the water with and had been spurred on by the proliferation of co-working spaces since the dawning of the internet, was thrust into mainstream society and became the normal as the country went into lockdown.
Pre-lockdown employers main concerns centered around employee motivation and drive to work, efficient output and delivery of work, effective communication, team building and team leadership. The surprise came in lockdown when productivity levels rose.
This is where the entrepreneurial mindset plays in. The question we needed to ask wasn’t how to motivate our employees when not surrounding by the business environment, but rather how can we make sure our employees don’t burn out as they struggle to have clear distinct lines between when working stops and leisure begins. How can we give confidence to our team that working effectively will both be more productive as well as be more sustainable, rather than chasing one’s tail in order to both ‘get stuff done’ as well as being seen to ‘being busy’? How can we encourage the casual water cooler chats which relieve tension and share experiences at a time when there is so much to do to ensure the business survives during these pandemic times?
By rephrasing some of the thoughts above, the question transforms into whether these challenges are the same that any entrepreneur in a start-up business faces? The ability to work effectively, think strategically and maintain some balance on a professional/personal level could be seen to be the hallmarks of a certain mindset which enables anyone to succeed under high pressure, stressful situations.
Re-examining support methods
Employees have been put through their paces this year as extreme circumstances have been paired with the need to delivery greater output to keep businesses afloat. However, employees have demonstrated that they have the skills and tools necessary to keep up with urgency and deliver work successfully without having their hands held by management teams in an office environment. Therefore, business leaders must re-examine how they can support their employees
If historically we have seen learning and development of an individual as a skill set development mechanism, then maybe this focus on the IQ needs to be re-looked at and maybe the emotional intelligence or the EQ should be the focus of learning and development in a post pandemic world (or a world still living in a pandemic…)
Independence and resilience
Ultimately the importance should not be placed on the ability to think or work differently, it should be placed on the ability to manage ones professional and private life when the two are so innately intertwined. Someone with an entrepreneurial mindset able to work in periods of isolation and when surrounded by others, it is their ability to deliver when the load falls squarely on their shoulders, when they have to make decisions and not regret nor second guess themselves. Ultimately it is a mindset of resilience, of strength in adversity, of taking time to enjoy the moment and to appreciate the journey.
To foster a mindset of independence and resilience, business leaders must re-set their own mindset and explore how they can best support their teams. Their teams who are working in new conditions and who have adapted to their new environments and demonstrated their abilities and that they have many of the necessary skills to continue to deliver their work. The individuals have demonstrated they have the skills, now they need the support and softer skills, to ensure they have the necessary resilience and strength to continue to push forward.