The Organizational Development Muse

Dr. Mark L. Vincent's Blog

The entrepreneurial moment: The patience of a steward leader

Posted by Mark L. Vincent on Jan 27, 2014 5:30:00 AM

Didn't get your plan right the first time?

The second?

The tenth?

The hundredth?

entrepreneurial_momentThe steward leader keeps going in confidence they are doing the right thing until they find the right way to do it. Patience is required or the Managing Leader will abandon the project. 

Call it the Entrepreneurial moment. Call it the gut-check, the moment when fight or flight kicks in.

Let's not pretend it is easy to know when one should stay the course and when one should bail, but we can know that fear, depression, setbacks, and experiencing a radically different reality than originally forecast are not sufficient reasons to turn off the lights.

At least two guides can be helpful in facing the entrepreurial moment:


1. A time horizon. Even more important than how much cash you have is how much time you can or will commit. An open-ended time horizon sounds but can become the reason someone only plays at their dream. Not needing to succeed can become its own obstacle.

At the opposite end, a short time horizon is usually unrealistic. Yes, there are stories of people who rise up overnight and who succeed without really trying. You are not that person. Neither am I. Answer this: how long can you conceivably work at the dream? Can you make yourself available longer than that if it is working but not as quickly as you had hoped?

As a steward leader I want to think about my time horizon a bit differently. I need to plan a time horizon for a specific scenario, initiative or vision, and I keep responding to a lifelong mission I believe I've been given. In my case the lifelong mission is the development of other, quality leaders. Am I willing to keep working at it in varying ways, to find new projects to do the same thing when old methods fail, and to keep building it whether I am compensated or not. Is my lifelong mission really life long?

2. Adaptability. Am I prepared to shape, reshape, adjust, bend and change my navigation? If I do not have this level of flexibility, my perception narrows up and I can no longer gain the perspective needed to find the path that does work. I'll walk right by it!

I love this about the pharmaceutical industry. So many of the stories of world-changing products come from mistakes, unplanned discoveries and (I love this phrase) "off-target effects." The industry is prepped to learn and gain from ancillary opportunities, even when the hoped for outcome is proven impossible--at least for the moment.

A specific effort in my own life is developing peer-based advising teams in Eastern Wisconsin. This approach to executive development had its start here and other such teams have long-standing histories and reputations of effectiveness.

It is a long slog to get these going, but going they are. I'm convinced my initial success ties to the time horizon of wanting to do this for the next 20-25 years rather than as a one year experiement. That horizon combines with my readiness to learn from what works or what was unexpected as I build these teams. Even if it is not the original vision, the mission remains intact. 

I am helped to face the entrpreneurial moment.

-mark l vincent


Topics: entrepreneurship, Mark L. Vincent, steward leadership


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