Sue Peters, Director of the LEAD programme at Lancaster University Management School is well placed to offer her expert insight into leadership in business. Read her thoughts on this core business topic below
Can entrepreneurs become leaders? Are leaders born or made?
These are very important questions and ones that have huge debates surrounding them. Good leadership is essential for the survival and profitability of businesses. This is even more critical for the survival of smaller firms. From my experience of developing leadership in small businesses I firmly believe that leaders can be made and that some entrepreneurs can be leaders.
How can entrepreneurs develop their leadership capabilities? I believe it is about creating the right environment to learn leadership. In academic circles it is well known that entrepreneurs and owner managers have little opportunities to learn leadership. Working for themselves they often feel isolated and lonely and often the only people they can talk to are family or friends.
Research and empirical evidence has shown that leadership can be learnt and leadership capabilities in the smaller firm (at all levels) can be heightened. Programmes such as LEAD provide the environment for owner managers of small to medium sized businesses to heighten their leadership capabilities by learning from others.
A trusted peer network of others in the same boat provides the perfect opportunity to learn and develop. However, Leadership is also about identity. The leader has to want to be a leader which is why some entrepreneurs make disastrous leaders. One defining feature of a leader is that he or she has followers. Definitions surrounding entrepreneurs are typically that they are risk takers, they create new opportunities and often creative destruction. Sometimes the entrepreneur should not be the leader but if they are willing to lead and see themselves as a leader there are opportunities to develop the leader within.