Entrepreneurs Make Bad Employees - and That's Good!

Entrepreneurs Make Bad Employees - and That's Good!

Social Studies | Posted by YouInc.com - January 3, 2014 at 12:00 am

An Investigation Into the Personality Matrixes of Leaders, Innovators, Creators and Disruptors

The question of whether leaders are born or made has been researched extensively. At the end of the day there is no definitive conclusion, which creates divisive factions regarding how to both select and develop star performers.

When it comes to entrepreneurs, however, we are talking about a different universe. I strongly adhere to the belief that entrepreneurs are born with a unique lens, motivational drivers, and personality characteristics. This vital combination is something that cannot be taught. True – there are courses and books on how to be an entrepreneur, but while sound business practice can be shared, it is unlikely that creativity and innovation can be acquired.

Whether you are a business leader, dancer, musician or vintner, the motivation is to create new and different experiences.

First, we need to understand that entrepreneurs make really bad employees. Policies, procedures and protocols create a structure that is seen as violating the necessary climate of creativity. Entrepreneurs do not understand why organizations create methodologies around how work must be conducted. Layers of bureaucracy and sign-offs stifle spontaneous thought. The corporate sector, though, does play a valuable role in helping would-be entrepreneurs understand profit and loss statements and hone their business acumen. Any self-employed individual should be an employee first.

It always fascinates me that entrepreneurs are viewed as daring and pushing boundaries. When I chat with the self-employed they do not see it that way. They approach the world around possibilities. They understand that current solutions are now historical and seek to improve, enhance, or drastically alter how we interface with the world. The motivation to disrupt the status quo is not for the purposes of being rebellious or difficult. If you do not understand that, then you do not understand the psyche of the self-employed.

Oh, sure, one of my self-employed clients always wears two different colours of socks – red-and-orange and purple-and-green are his favourite combinations. I asked him why and he replied, “Where does it come from that socks are supposed to match?” A parsimonious reply, but indeed true. Did he enjoy that his socks were a great conversation piece? For sure, but the motivation was not primarily attention seeking. It was born out of always challenging why the world currently operates in certain ways, and how we can make life fascinating and hopefully more thought-provoking. Whether you are a business leader, dancer, musician or vintner, the motivation is to create new and different experiences. Pushing people out of their comfort zone is a necessary ingredient for growth.

Funny story: I once had a client who described his daily routine. He had the same job for 16 years and took the same cheese sandwich for lunch everyday. That meant he consumed approximately 4800 cheese sandwiches over the course of his tenure. I asked him if he ever thought about tuna. He responded with alarm, “Now why would I ever do that?” In other words, this works. We were both perplexed with each other. I could not grasp why he wouldn’t experience something different, of course my question was not really about lunch, it was more symbolic. He, on the other hand, could not understand why I would propose an alternative when contentment and predictability were the overarching goals.

Tags: born leaders, challenges, creativity, innovation, personality, status quo, health

Cindy Wahler
Cindy Wahler, Ph.D., C.Psych. is a leadership consultant specializing in succession planning and talent management. For additional information or to get in touch with Dr. Wahler, please click here.
Michael Payne
January 3, 2014 at 2:08 pm
Some people might say if it works, no need to change. Others might say if it ain't broke, no need to fix. If I was him I would've just said it helps my regularity.
Mohamad Hamade
January 4, 2014 at 9:44 am
So does that mean we should not include our entrepreneurial experiences on our job applications? ^.^
Melody McKinnon
January 4, 2014 at 2:29 pm
I see where you're going with it but the statement doesn't stand alone, in my opinion. I think the parameters involved with working for someone else can be a challenge to those with an entrepreneurial personality. However, it can be constructively channeled if the employee is equipped with the personal tools to do so, supposing the employer embraces an entrepreneurial mindset. For companies looking for those qualities because they recognize and appreciate what they can do for their business, hiring an 'entrepreneurial type' can be (and often is) the ideal choice.
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