Entrepreneur’s Diary #63 – Leadership Skills

So what are the qualities an entrepreneur or manager should have in order to do his or her job well? What are the necessary requirements for good leadership? What competence and knowledge are important in a leader? What kind of person should you be?

In our mentorship relationship, Jakob Lutz of UnternehmerTUM and yours truly worked on this, because I personally believe it is an extremely difficult area. Here are our results:

  • Technological Competence
    It is often said that a top manager can function as head of enterprise in any field of expertise. Or that an excellent project manager can be put in charge of any project. 
That is not how I feel about it. To be sure, very talented persons will certainly be able to acquire the necessary competence in any new field. But where should the technological competence come from? Especially for (successful) founders of a new enterprise, it is unthinkable that they have no idea what “their” enterprise is all about.
  • Economic Competence    
Well, you cannot do without numbers …
  • The Inner Life of your Enterprise
    We consider entering a totally alien enterprise from the outside problematic. Especially if we are talking a very huge enterprise. You need years in order to even halfway understand the internal life of a huge concern.
  • The Environment of the Enterprise
    You should know your product and its markets, just like the positioning of your enterprise, the competition and current trends. This is far from trivial.
  • The “Skills”:
    We believe that a “good leader” would be well advised to be endowed with the following characteristics and competence:
    • A combination of wisdom and experience;
    • Civil courage and the readiness to disobey the authorities constructively if necessary;
    • Being realistic – not suffering from extreme perception disorder;
    • Being able to listen;
    • Empathy;
    • Being extroverted to the right degree;
    • A high communicative competence;
      both in the written and spoken form, which, to me, seems a huge problem today;
    • Being able to tell stories in an exciting way;
    • Charisma;
    • The right mixture of modern and conservative attitudes;
    • Representing innovation and continuity:
    • Being able to delegate (transfer, let go, hand on to the next person);
    • Being able to distinguish between what is important and not;
    • Being able to speak foreign languages:
      Mostly, English will probably suffice. If your market is only regional, even this might not be necessary. On the other hand, it is easy to imagine a situation where regional language competence is valuable.
  • Abiding by the Law
    This is often forgotten. Here is an example: as a general rule, it is good for an enterprise to stick by even those regulations that make no sense, regardless of  violations probably not being punished (the obligation to publish something, data security, the deposit system,…)

🙂 Once in a while, the last item will cause a conflict with civil courage and constructive disobedience. But still abiding by the law is a value.

This was the result of our work. But it is not the end, because:

Reading all the aforementioned requirements makes me dizzy. They represent the ideal person no leader can probably ever be. No matter how hard he or she works towards promoting his or her own strong points and overcoming his or her weaknesses.

But perhaps the items of the list are not all that relevant! And it might just suffice if the “leader” can be graded with an (good or sufficient) average of all these qualities. After all, the long list only contains “useful to necessary” requirements! This is all true and important! But is it enough?

🙂 To be sure, it would be nice to have a few “excellent” grades and not too many “deficient” grades. But even there, I know some good leaders who would have to be given a “failed” in one or other of those disciplines.
But there is something else a leader absolutely has to have. Let us call it

Empathy & “Psychological Strength”

I am sure we will have to work on the expression, but what it means is an absolute “MUST”. Perhaps we will even get a sufficient requirement by using it, for instance:

A person who has empathy and psychological strength meets the one most basic requirement for being a good leader!

But how do you gain those? I do not know. But I believe even that is something which can be done. Perhaps all it takes is that you have to reduce your own inner enmity (we all have it) and at the same time be free and independent. Free in the sense of “willing and capable of living your own life and take all responsibility for it “.

But we must not demand too much! Even if some of us would wish to come close to perfection, we must not forget that we are, after all, just humans. And that, as such, we all have our individual and lovable strengths and weaknesses.

I guess super-humans only exist in legends. Or else, they come every few thousand years.

(Translated by EG)

For all the articles of my entrepreneur’s diary, click here: Drehscheibe

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