The myth of the entrepreneur and the value of the invisible
In recent years we have witnessed the glorification of the figure of the entrepreneur. Job offers require skills that are not always essential. Society needs entrepreneurship and leadership, but do we all have the capacity to be leaders and entrepreneurs? And even if we had, what would a leader do without co-workers? We must value the professional profiles that help bring a project to fruition.
There is much talk about the entrepreneur, about their attributes and skills. We are beckoned to be one, and not striving towards this goal is almost equal to being mediocre or having no ambition. But little is said about the person lending assistance and support at the innovator’s side. Every creation or innovation calls for the support and reliance of a small team. No one is able to build alone or in isolation. Nevertheless, jobs often require skills and talents that shall not always be developed in organisations. For instance, applicants are required to have initiative, to be proactive, to have team-working and efficient communication skills; they are asked to be potential leaders and to have an enterprising spirit. In the selection process, people who do not possess these skills are often ruled out, even though such skills are not later required in the working environment.
The message conveyed is that, if you are not enterprising, you are practically useless. “Are you unemployed? Become an entrepreneur.” “Be an entrepreneur. Become your own boss.” These kinds of messages are common, as if an entrepreneurial spirit were a general skill and anyone could have it. And while this is going on, what value is given to “being part of”, to “being the link in a chain”, to “becoming part of a system”? Where do those who facilitate the success of others and make them visible end up? What would become of entrepreneurs without the people in the backroom, those who lend support and do not seek notoriety, who have had faith in the idea and work for and because of it?
Not everyone can or should be an entrepreneur. Those who are not can be effective for other purposes. They have other capabilities that the entrepreneur lacks and needs, essential qualities for any organisation such as methodicalness and discipline, rigour, tenacity, perseverance, sound judgement and listening skills. They are people with the capacity to painstakingly organise with composure, to search for, analyse and evaluate information, which they prefer to do rather than compete, and they follow instructions and rely on a leader’s guidance.
Today more than ever we must trust, help and build collectively. The focus must therefore be placed on the necessary cooperation of those who follow and trust the intuition of a leader. Those who do not wish to engage in a frontline responsibility are often undervalued in society and in the workplace. Loyalty and support are not in vogue; there is much talk about me, but little talk about us. Who are the others behind this me?
Loyalty and support are not in vogue; there is much talk about me, but little talk about us.
Who are the others behind the entrepreneur?
They are people with a large dose of camaraderie, involvement and commitment and who need to feel integrated in a team and feel that they are esteemed both on account of their knowledge and their experience and temperament. We must value the feeling of eagerness, engagement and commitment to a project, and that this motivation is conducive to obtaining optimal project results. We must value cooperation and the capacity for honest reflection, and accept that there can be various ways of integrating into projects and teams.
The motivation model proposed by the entrepreneur and writer Yu-Kai Chou (“Gamification and Behavioral Design: The Octalysis Framework”, 2019) explains what drives people to be part of a team and wish to continue being part of it. The combination of some of the following eight dimensions (which make up a positive/negative, extrinsic/intrinsic model) reveals which person’s needs must be met and that are the source of their motivation.
1. Meaning. Believing that what he or she is doing is important to them and to the group.
2. Development. Being faced with a challenge and overcoming it yields benefits.
3. Creativity. Being able to express it and seeing the results of their creativity.
4. Ownership. Intense feeling of ownership and control over something.
5. Social influence. Relationships, social acceptance, giving or receiving support.
6. Scarcity. Getting something that is difficult because of its uniqueness or its unattainable nature.
7. Unpredictability. Curiosity about what is to come or the consequences of our actions.
8. Loss. Continuing to avoid negative outcomes.
To motivate, it is best to avoid the negative and the extrinsic core drives (ownership, scarcity and unpredictability) and to foster intrinsic and positive core drives (meaning, development, creativity and social influence).
Having a doer, an efficient participant committed to a team’s project, is as important as getting the idea to see the light of day. The idea, without action for its development, is of no use, and its execution requires people to get involved, and to be loyal to the team and to the project. Being loyal and part of a project is harder; being loyal and serving the group is a form of leadership. Furthermore, it provides satisfaction and poses the same challenges. We must know our limitations as well as our abilities and skills, and know how we are better for the team and how to leverage our skills with a view to achieving the objectives.
To be efficient, a team requires its members to be different from one another. Heterogeneity creates the ideal condition for the team.
To be efficient, a team requires its members to be different from one another. Heterogeneity creates the ideal condition for the team. The difference in capabilities, talents, skills, training, origin, that is, diversity, generates complementarity and provides the skills required for an efficient team. However, admittedly, this heterogeneity is difficult to steer and triggers conflicts, which despite being necessary to yield the optimal results, also bear an emotional toll. Hence, participants committed and loyal to the group are needed. When you really work as a team, it becomes a treasure and, therefore, you have to take care of it.
The philosopher José Antonio Marina has discussed two levels of human intelligence: generative or cognitive intelligence, which allows us to learn, and executive intelligence, which implies action and allows us to act. Well, different styles of interaction correspond to different ways of doing things, but also to diverse ways of processing (finding out) information. And this is also linked to different, faster or slower processing times.
People’s different forms of interaction could be described based on the model offered by DISC, a methodology that facilitates the study of people’s natural behaviour in different situations. Its name is derived from the combination of the first letters of the words decision, interaction, serenity and compliance. This method describes four styles or roles, in other words, four ways of doing things and behaving in groups. Each style has its different motivations and forms of intelligence, which leads us to propose which style would be applied by an effective team member, the best co-worker for an entrepreneur to undertake a project.
The reliable or doer style refers to someone who shows a calm, serene, easy-going and prudent demeanour. Although these people are highly sensitive to uncertainty or insecurity, their external demeanour does not show it. They are in strong control and need to dominate the situation and to have the information to manage it. If they exercise control over what they do, they feel safe to perform the task efficiently. They need specific information and feeling useful reinforces their motivation and commitment.
The socialising or people-oriented style is focused on others; it favours relationships with and among people over the objective or task. These people are characterised by their spontaneity and drive, they are talkative and need action. They postpone difficult issues or matters they find contentious or problematic. Changes are motivating, since routine breeds boredom for them. Their main motivator is related to social influence.
The global or instigator style is characterised by eagerness and swiftness in resolving situations and in decision making. Their strength and their capacity for change and to set themselves challenges make them pioneers and instigators. They usually raise issues directly and clearly: they say what they think. Their main motivator corresponds to impatience and meaning.
The analytical or specialist style is precise, perfectionist, detail-oriented, with a need to evaluate all the available information. Therefore, it is someone who will need to know, who will ask a great deal of questions, who will seek out the information and investigate it until their curiosity is satisfied. Their capacity for criticism and scepticism is what brings them to understand and learn. Their capacity for work is essentially individualistic and their main incentives are curiosity and fulfilment.
Which style is the most effective for making a project grow? The one that complements the style the leader or entrepreneur already has. The opposite, the one that least conforms to the leader’s style, is the one that is most needed. This would be precisely the definition of interdependence, the mutual need for the other: what complements you is what completes you.
We must value co-workers, who are the most socially vulnerable, because society does not reward invisibility.
Although the forms of participation are manifold and varied, the best team member is the one who best meets the team’s needs. In this sense, the leader at the service of the group highlights that what is most important is to serve the group (Greenleaf, 2002). This type of leadership does not seek to accumulate power, but rather its priorities are aimed at helping others. The leader serving the group is someone who puts the team’s needs above their own, and feels empathy for co-workers (Spears, 1995).
Thus, we can conclude that, in addition to entrepreneurs, committed co-workers are needed, who love their work and help organisations, without needing to be visible or in the limelight. Entrepreneurship needs to build employee capacity and nurture their loyalty, it needs the commitment and involvement of people who believe in the project, in the group, who build together and pool their efforts. We must value co-workers, those who are the most socially vulnerable right now, because society does not reward invisibility. There are people who simply like to be part of an organisation, a culture or a project. Commitment to oneself, the desire to grow, to continuously learn is a form of entrepreneurship that offers added value to the organisation.
Greenleaf, R. K. Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power and greatness (L. C. Spears, Ed.). New Jersey, Paulist Press, 2002.
Extended DISC Methodology. Tools4Success.
Spears, L. C. “Introduction: servant-leadership and the Greenleaf legacy”. In L. C. Spears (Ed.), Reflections on leadership: How Robert K. Greenleaf’s theory of servant-leadership influenced today’s top management thinkers. New York, John Wiley &Sons, Inc, 1995, pp. 1-16.
Chou, Yu-Kai. Course “Gamification and Behavioral Design: The Octalysis Framework. Learn the 8 Core Drives that motivate us all (beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards)”. 2019.
- “Comunicación grupal” Montserrat Aiger i María Palacín. Inside 'Aspectos psicosociales de la comunicación', de R. Martínez-Pecino and J. M. Guerra de los Santos (coords.). Pirámide, 2014.
- El grupo familiar ante la enfermedad y el desarrollo del afecto grupalMontserrat Aiger and María Palacín. Milenio Publicaciones, 2011.
- Psicología Comunitaria Europea: comunidad, poder, ética y valoresMaría Palacín, Alipio Sánchez and Alba Zambrano. Publicacions UB, 2004.
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