If there’s anything to be taken away from the Chivas Venture competition, it’s that there’s an encouragingly wide spectrum of social enterprises across the world, and - by extension - a broad range of successful leadership styles.
Over the course of this year’s Accelerator Week, the 30 new finalists underwent an intense entrepreneurial boot-camp geared towards identifying the management and presentational styles best suited to their personalities, with the aid of an invigorating regimen of interactive workshops and one-on-one coaching sessions.
On Day Two of the Accelerator Week, the Deputy Director for the Skoll Centre, Andrea Warriner, gave a Leadership for Social Impact workshop that helped the finalists establish their leadership goals. During B Corp champion Charmian Love’s eye-opening panel on Investor Perspectives, the entrepreneurs were invited to consider what qualities backers are looking for and the importance of their character being a reflection and extension of their business. And career management consultant Steve O’Smotherly guided finalists in some of the personality traits they would need to develop in order to become effective leaders.
The class of 2016 know exactly what it is like to journey through the highs and occasional lows of the competition. So we spoke to them about which of the leadership qualities they value most, and how the lessons learned during the Chivas Venture has helped drive the success of their social enterprises.
Edison Santos, founder and CEO of ECO Mensajería is big on one very specific trait, and warns entrepreneurs against losing sight of what really matters while pursuing business success.
“You need humility. You can mix it up with leadership, passion, excellence, commitment, positive attitude, love and discipline. Add anything else you want but never forget to be humble before, during and after success. Because in the end - money, fame, dreams and business aside - we are just fragile human beings with families, friends and values. Ultimately, those things are your true path to success. You must keep humility in mind as your best asset, so that you always win the right way!”
Meanwhile, Maria Pacheco, co-founder of the Wakami fashion brand that fights poverty in rural communities, unsurprisingly makes a case for generosity of spirit and nurturing a sense of connection to your surroundings.
“A successful entrepreneur is connected to his or her heart, with a sincere passion that enables them to find joy in their work. At the same time, they must have the ability to empathise with others, and follow his or her own path - however unconventional it may be. And last but not least: they must love the world.”
Strength through positivity
For some, success is - at least partly - a state of mind. The ability to bounce back and keep yourself motivated in the face of adversity is crucial for any entrepreneur looking to stay the course.
In developing a tech platform that gives “locked in” people the freedom to communicate, Or Retzkin, CEO of EyeControl found that attitude is crucial. “Optimism is important. The road of an entrepreneur is always beset with ups and downs; the key thing is to be able to keep your eye on the end goal and maintain the belief that you’re going to reach it.”
Onicio Leal, co-founder and CEO of Epitrack suggests that a successful entrepreneur should be a fount of “confidence, resilience, sensitivity and power.”
And MotionECO founder Shutong Liu believes entrepreneurs should possess a chameleon-like ability to acclimatise. “Dedication and flexibility are crucial. You need to be able to deal with all manner of different conditions, then accept and adapt your problem-solving appropriately.”
A vision that inspires
WeFarm CEO and founder Kenny Ewan believes a clear vision was a key source of the tenacity necessary to establish their innovative knowledge-sharing platform that allows farmers without internet access to share efficient farming techniques and solutions.
“For me, two of the most important traits are vision and tenacity. Along the way to any successful business you are going to have to convince a lot of people to work with you, write about you, fund you and - of course - use your product. A strong vision is definitely key to this; people love being part of something they believe in.
“You are also going to have a lot (a lot!) of setbacks and hard days as you fight to realise your vision. Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, but they all share the same determination to make it.”
Habitec co-founder Felisberto Capamba has a strong philosophy about translating vision into action, which he developed in the process of setting up a business manufacturing wooden furniture for Angolan schools.
“To become a successful entrepreneur you must be prepared to search constantly for new business opportunities. Always be aware of what’s going on in your market. Be attuned to the needs of those around you, and keep in mind your vision of where you are, where you want to go and what needs to be done. Create action plans and prioritize them within your newest endeavor.
“It is important to be honest with yourself about your company’s problems and seek solutions to those problems, all while permanently stimulating and motivating your team. With this mentality, you greatly increase the likelihood of your business being successful.”
Finally, Charles Blaschke, MD of Taka Solutions is a firm believer in “The ability to see an opportunity, and have the courage to not just explore it but test it and take the risk of executing it, all while having the capacity to work hard and sacrifice everything in your life to achieve this - whatever the odds. To get the job done, and be resilient enough to keep going when you get hit with adversity.”
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