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Entrepreneurial Leadership-using a coaching approach can help you succeed

The development of entrepreneurial leaders in higher education, with mindsets and behaviours such as creative thinking, the willingness and ability to innovate, lead change and take calculated risks, in order to lead skilfully at this time of unprecedented change, has never been more important.

Entrepreneurial leadership is a learnable process and like all approaches to leadership, the skills required need to be learned and practised. The promotion of entrepreneurial leadership at all levels of a university can enable that university to deal with challenges, seize opportunities, develop a competitive edge and achieve success.

Entrepreneurial leaders possess a blend of personality traits, thought processes, behaviours, skills and attitudes that enable them to be agile, flexible and to adapt and respond to rapid change and challenging circumstances. Many of these skills and behaviours can be learned. To succeed they ensure that they can create, or communicate, a vision and can enthuse and influence members of the team to commit to the vision. They find ways of motivating and enabling members of the team to achieve the vision through listening to them and encouraging new ideas and creative thinking. Entrepreneurial leaders inspire, support and encourage their teams, they remove obstacles and play the roles of coach and cheerleader and contributor to the team’s output and success.

As an experienced senior university leader, executive coach and Director of NCEE Entrepreneurial Leaders, I believe that using a coaching approach to leadership can benefit your team and enhance your chances of success. Coaching can be used to encourage entrepreneurial activity and behaviours and promote innovation and creativity amongst teams of staff in schools, faculties and professional services for the wider benefit of the university. Like other leadership skills, basic coaching skills can be learned either through attending short courses or using on-line courses to teach yourself.

Here are a few practical ideas, derived from coaching techniques that may enhance your skills as an entrepreneurial leader and improve your team’s engagement and performance.

• Instead of taking the lead, take a facilitative role in some team discussions for example where the team is looking for fresh ideas. Create space and a conducive environment to encourage others to speak up and share ideas.

• Plan agendas for team meetings that give enough time for interaction and promote creative thinking.

• Instead of giving answers- ask good questions for the team to work on. Use open questions such as how? and what?

• Listen more and talk less to your team. Encourage contributions from all members.

• Work to establish “stretch” goals. Use the GROW coaching technique (Goals, Current Reality, Options (or Obstacles) and Will (or Way Forward) to achieve objectives.

• Empower others and devolve tasks and delegate responsibility as far as practicable.

• Get to know the individuals in the team and make time for them. Understand what motivates each individual.

• Encourage and support team members to generate new ideas and seize new opportunities. Encourage them to evaluate risks and benefits and share these openly with the team.

• Celebrate successes and support failures. Share openly what has been learned from successful ventures as well as from those initiatives that have been unsuccessful.

For more information on Entrepreneurial Leaders please visit

If you feel you might benefit from leadership coaching please visit or contact me at

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