Jack Welch and Suzy Welch in a Business Week article (Feb. 4, 2008) state that a CEO (and a prospective President of the US in this an election year in the US) need five basic leadership skills:
1. They need to be authentic and, hence, trusted;
2. That have to have vision and be able to communicate that;
3. They have to be able to hire great people and sometimes fire them too;
4. They need to be able to bounce back from a setback;
5. They need to be able to “see around corners”; to notice changes in their markets pretty much before anyone else does.
They also mention another requirement which I would put under the category of management rather than leadership:
6. They have to be able to execute.
These are pretty good guidelines. I would think that they also apply to entrepreneurs but I think entrepreneurs need a few more:
a. They need to be able to sell;
b. They need to be able to control costs;
c. They need to be able to make up their own rules as they go along;
d. They need to be creative in many of the things they do;
e. They have to bring a sense of urgency to each day;
f. They don’t take ‘no’ for an answer;
g. They need to buck the system and be comfortable doing it;
h. They have to be self reliant;
i. They need to be able to deal with risk and uncertainty;
j. They have to be able to set and achive goals but be flexible enough to change their plan in an instant;
k. They need to be able to borrow best practices from wherever they find them;
l. They need to know when it is time to give up on a business and start something else;
m. They need to be able to work long hours and to be effective during that time;
n. They have to set priorities;
o. They have to see their whole business ecosystem as part of their TEAM;
p. They have to understand human psychology: the psyche of their employees, their clients, their suppliers and they have to be better poker players than they are chess players- they need to be sympatico;
q. They need to be humble, learn from their mistakes and never make the same mistake twice;
r. They never try to go back and revisit something that didn’t work already once- they just move on;
s. They can cope with high levels of stress.
I am sure there are a ton more characteristics of successful entrepreneurs but this a pretty good list to start with. If you get 70 or higher on our ECQ Test, you probably have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.