Recognizing an Entrepreneurial Spirit

Each of the organizations within the Fedcap Group has a history of doing something new and innovative—committed to righting a wrong, improving access or changing attitudes. Their vision and entrepreneurial spirit continues to propel us forward.

As a leader, I seek to surround myself with people who harbor and who foster the same entrepreneurial spirit as that of our founders. And while I wish it were so, this spirit is not something that is readily teachable. Rather it is an innate quality that can—and must—be recognized. It can be nurtured and encouraged, but I have found that those who possess an entrepreneurial spirit have certain instinctive characteristics in common.

First, they have a passion for solving, not serving, the problem. They feel an emotional and a tactical connection to the people we serve and the and the challenges we seek to solve. The drive to help improve the lives of others is what drives and compels them to work long hours and to give 150%.

Second, they never stop questioning how to do “it” better. They seek input from all perspectives. They research. They read. They talk to strangers about their work to get completely objective opinions. They learn from others doing similar work. They are rigorous in their quest to understand data and how to measure success. They never rest on the laurels of yesterday’s success.

Third, they posses a spirit of realistic optimism. They believe that the environment, the circumstances, and the challenges they face can improve. They understand that sometimes it is just one precisely placed intervention, one shift in funding can result in significant impact. They are optimists about the goal and realistic about what it takes to achieve it.

Fourth, they have a high tolerance for risk. They understand that there are economic, reputational, and financial risks in every new direction and every new venture. But they also understand how to strategically understand and manage the risk.

Fifth, they know how to identify and engage talent to get things done. They know how to build teams that effectively manage their time, their talent and their resources. They know how to create a vison, establish goals, create a strategy in service to those goals and a structure to effectively accomplish the work.

What other traits might you add to my list? As always, I am eager to hear your thoughts.

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