While the worst of the pandemic may be finally behind us, the global workplace is still in a state of anxious flux, with leaders visibly ill-equipped to cope. According to the findings of a Gartner study, only 35% of HR leaders and 49% of employees agree that leaders in their organisations have the capabilities they need to succeed in the future. In such a milieu, there has been increasing discussion of using “hybrid leadership”, to keep the ship steady.
There are two broad notions of what the term hybrid leadership means. The first is that it is simply the set of frameworks, tools and processes, required for a multi-modal management of teams that are operating in a hybrid (on-premises/ remote/ virtual) environment. The second, and to my mind more interesting interpretation, is that hybrid leadership is the ability of company leaders to leverage learnings across multiple different leadership models. For instance, remaining flexible, as markets, customer needs and circumstances change (Situational Leadership), being able to inspire and motivate one’s team (Transformational Leadership), while demonstrating humility, even, at times, vulnerability (Servant Leadership).
I would argue that regardless of the definition one follows, developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset (EM) is empowering for all senior professionals in a hybrid leadership role. As regards EM, there aren’t just two, but more than twenty different ways of thinking about and measuring it. Over years of academic research and workplace application, these have deepened into validated psychometric scales and surveys: Gallup’s 10-factor Entrepreneurial Profile (EP10), Eckerd College’s Entrepreneurship Mindset Profile (EMP), Carol Dweck’s Growth vs Fixed Mindset instrument, and the Entrepreneurial Self Efficacy (ESE) developed over two decades ago, to name only a few. Having studied these and developed our own EM survey at NUVAH, let me highlight some key attributes that are common to a number of these constructs.
First, Self-Confidence. This is a no-brainer, since, without conviction in one’s own talents and capabilities, it’s impossible to instil trust and confidence in others. Next, Entrepreneurial Motive: the innate drive and need to achieve, to be successful in one’s endeavours, and provide a compass for one’s ambition. Future Focus or Future-Mindedness, is another key attribute. Of course, this is essential for undertaking any strategy and planning beyond the near-term. But it also enables one to break from what some psychologists call “cognitive immobility”, a sort of mental entrapment that makes one subconsciously want to recreate situations and actions that have occurred in the past – including past mistakes.
Creativity and Innovation feature in many EM frameworks. This duo of attributes ensures both a greater quantum and quality – of one’s ideas. It also empowers a person to brainstorm more effectively. Another EM attribute, especially one that has gained much currency during the pandemic, is Resilience – not in the sense of resilient business processes or technology, but resilience at a purely personal, emotional and psychological level. This is what keeps a person going through periods of adversity, stress and uncertainty, and enables one to bounce back from setbacks. Risk-Taking Ability, too, is crucial. Creative abilities can be truly inspiring, but they’re all too often eroded, if not complemented by the ability to embrace uncertainty, and to be comfortable taking calculated risks.
A number of EM measures have included Emotional Intelligence (EQ) as part of their formulation. Research and publications on EQ over the past three decades can easily fill up several shelves of a library. Suffice it to say that higher levels of EQ enables a leader to collaborate better with others, develop meaningful relationships, understand the feelings and emotions of other people, and build trust. Emotional Intelligence in turn leads directly to that other crucial but usually neglected aspect of EM – Delegation. Especially as businesses begin to scale up, the ability to appreciate the capability of others, empower them, and rely on them to get the job done can make all the difference between success and failure. There are many other attributes that feature in EM models – my aim here has been to call out some key ones, in order to arrive at a behavioural sketch of the diverse blend of competencies that set an entrepreneur up for success.
Now, take a step back and map each of the attributes we outlined – to the challenges facing today’s leader. In a hybrid workplace that has turned increasingly more digital and multi-modal, it is clear that leaders are required to be coaches, facilitators, mentors, and not just managers. They need to exhibit deep relational skills and at the same time, be evangelists of change – all of which require an entrepreneurial mindset.