The Entrepreneur as a Manager

The Entrepreneur as a Manager
By Vijay Nair
Apart from being a leader, an entrepreneur also needs to be an able Manager, regardless of whether or not he plays an active role in the organization that has been set up. Managerial strengths tend to manifest far more visibly whereas the qualities of a leader are subliminal and in a sense even private. Managerial competencies in some ways appear to have a greater use for an entrepreneur to make a favorable first impression with all the stakeholders of the enterprise. The leadership strengths that come to fore in sustained transactions tend to build on this very foundation.

So what are the qualities of a capable Manager an entrepreneur may inherently possess or develop in order to extend his sphere of influence? It is easy to conclude that to successfully manage resources in any context the one factor that plays a critical role is common sense. However what construes this common sense is not as easily decipherable. Is it Focus and Discipline? Is it Result Orientation and the skills of an "Arranger?" Is it good Team and Relationship Orientation? Or is it a judicious mix of all of them.

Since human psychology is really complex, it is difficult to capture any answer in shades of black and white and respond to any question pertaining to it with a simple "yes" or "no." An individual can as easily make a favourable impression possessing just one of the managerial qualities that have been mentioned as a leading strength as he can with a judicious mix of all these competencies.

In Focus

Once again competencies take us to the esoteric realm of whether they are inherent or developed with training and practice. A quality like "Discipline" for instance at first glance appears to be something that is cultivated over a period of time. Early socialization in all cultures reward punctuality and consider it impolite to keep anyone waiting. Most households have rules and norms and children are expected to conform to them. The schools we go to emphasize the merits of being disciplined.

So is discipline inculcated consciously to become a part of our psychological framework? It may seem so and yet there are individuals who are habitually late for meetings and blame "traffic" for their unpunctuality. Also, in certain contexts, the pay off seems to come from bending the rules rather than conforming to them.

More importantly although Discipline is seen largely as a quality all of us must consciously develop, there are individuals who appear to be inherently disciplined. These individuals are able to function productively only within the boundaries laid down by systems and structures that may have been developed by them or by others.

Irrespective of whether this quality is a factor of nature or nurture, it always pays for an entrepreneur to be seen possessing it. It is always easier to trust a disciplined person. Being disciplined has connotations for an individual in terms of being seen as someone who honors his word and that is reassuring for all the stakeholders involved.

Similarly Focus or Goal Orientation is another competency that can be extremely beneficial for an entrepreneur. Any enterprise that is set up has to have both short and long term goals to succeed. The goals give the enterprise the milestones that all the stakeholders strive to reach. So it follows that the person behind the enterprise should be driven by personal goals as well. Goal Oriented individuals are seldom distracted and manage to keep others on track. Focus therefore is another inspirational managerial quality an entrepreneur may possess to succeed.

Result Orientation as a competency appears to be almost a sub set of Focus. The capability relates to the drive to achieve results as well as ensuring the results meet the parameters of quality. The results an enterprise delivers must make its customers happy so it differs from Goal Orientation only so far as to accommodate a greater concentration on customers than individual aspirations of an entrepreneur that lead to setting of his goals.

Entrepreneur as 'Arranger'

To achieve results or meet goals, the "Arranger" in an entrepreneur becomes all important. Planning is an important component of the arranging. Not only the right resources and talents need to be identified, the entrepreneur also needs to place them at the right place at the right time for the enterprise to succeed.

Nothing illustrates this better than the ongoing IPL tournament that is as much cricket as it is business. The team with the least monetary investment and the least number of "stars" has managed to upset all the favorites to emerge at the top of the table at the time of going into the semi finals. The reason behind this unexpected success is not difficult to fathom. Not only has thinking gone into making a choice about the right cricketing resource at the right price, these resources also seem to be scientifically arranged by the coach and the captain to come good at critical times and win matches for the team that directly contributes to the bottom line.

Relationship building

If one has to fall back on the same example, Team spirit appears to be a major contributor to the success of the team and this can only be fostered if the person leading such a group possesses team orientation. An entrepreneur to succeed must believe in forming mutually supportive relationships with others or at the very least partner with someone who has this ability. The capability to form and foster one is to one relationship with others is another skill an entrepreneur has to possess.

A lot is made out the term "Networking." It is considered to be an essential weapon in the entrepreneurial armory to succeed. However there is no research to back the claim any entrepreneur has succeeded by being seen in the right places or building superficial relationships. The successful entrepreneur invests in relationships. He commits to get commitment from others. This calls for a degree of transparency for trust to be built in relationships.

Managerial competencies range from intra personal to interpersonal. Some of them are inherent, others are cultivated over a period of time. They help an entrepreneur in his journey in various ways. They help him to build personal credibility and win goodwill from internal as well as external customers. They complement leadership qualities of vision, strategic thinking and concept. Very often an organization that is created mirrors the managerial qualities of its entrepreneur to succeed. Even when the reins of an enterprise is handed over to professional managers, the shadow of the entrepreneur and his strengths is bound to fall on the leadership team.

The house of Tata's comprises of a number of organizations, each being run autonomously as a separate entity. And yet they all appear to have a set of common values that derives from the managerial philosophy of the founding father and his successors. An enterprise big or small is only as good as the person driving it. For an organization to be efficient and effective, it needs to borrow the strengths of the person or persons driving it. The greater the managerial strengths an entrepreneur or a team of entrepreneurs bring to the table, the more are the chances for the enterprise to succeed.

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