Reaching the upper echelons of business is a task that requires some inspiring of others and established leadership skills. However, in the extra-tough worlds of start-ups and entrepreneurship, skillfully leading a team of people is even more important given the uphill struggle that this uncertain and unpredictable sector can represent. In an environment where salaries may start out a little lower than normal and where workloads can be heavy, building the sort of rapport that allows you to push your staff to the best of their abilities really is important.
How exactly can this tough task of leadership be achieved? Luckily, there are lots of ways that a new entrepreneur can go about it. From studying for a degree to enrolling in a values-based fraternity or other organization, it’s possible to pick up the art of leadership from the experts. This article will explore your options in more detail.
Fraternities and societies
One method that some budding entrepreneurs have used to enhance their leadership skills is to join an organization specifically designed for personal development. “Fraternities”, as they are known, are most commonly associated with colleges – and while joining a college fraternity, sorority or other society is one way to gain some leadership skills, it’s not the only way. These organizations also exist in churches, secular circles and elsewhere, and many are happy to welcome those who are looking to develop their skills for business. Sigma Chi is one such fraternity that is known for its commitments to the values of brotherhood and mentorship. There may also be a professional society in your sector which can help you, too.
MBAs and degrees
Leadership has long since been one of the aims of the game on a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program. MBA courses are taught by academics, but there’s also input from those who have been leaders in the private sector themselves. What that means is that you as the student will experience at first hand the advice and tips that a long-time leader can share, while also gaining the academic skills to place them in context.
Many MBAs also have opportunities for internships: at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, for example, the two-year course structure means that there’s a summer in between that’s ideal for a work placement. As well as allowing you to practice all the other skills you’ve learned over the course of your MBA program, such as analytical thinking and basic accountancy, this internship will usually give you a chance to try out your new leadership skills.
Practice makes perfect
Yet while the routes to leadership skills outlined above are good options, classroom learning can in some cases only take you so far. And with the stories of famous entrepreneurs such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg having involved very different life paths to the ones shared here, it’s clear that there are other ways to secure top leadership skills to make your mark effectively on the business world.
Sometimes, striking out on your own and working on your leadership skills while in the field can be the best route. If you have an idea and you are in a position to build a small team, the leadership skills you will develop in a bootstrapped start-up will be different to the ones you can learn in an MBA classroom. You’ll need to learn the art of intuitively understanding how to motivate people who are much more close-knit than they are in a corporation, which is a great – and rare – skill to have. If setting up by yourself is something that you aspire to but aren’t able to achieve just yet, meanwhile it may be worth considering looking for a non-business environment (such as a voluntary organization) and honing your leadership skills there first.
With the economy facing difficult and changing times, leadership is the sort of skill that these days is now required more than ever. From navigating the tricky waters of applying for start-up funding to inspiring your teams to work hard to achieve your company’s stated mission, leadership skills are pretty important no matter what sector you’re in. Whether you choose an institutional route to learning the skills required (like a degree or a society) or you go for a more hands-on approach, there are plenty of ways you can ensure that you get the abilities you will need to succeed.