Raw material of leadership. For years, research has shown that peers are more accurate in identifying and ranking leaders than are outside observers, researchers, and experts. Whether it is a high school sports team, a club, or some other organization, people have an uncanny, intuitive sense of who are and will be the best leaders. They know when someone is truly committed rather than just saying the words and going through the motions. They distinguish the exceptionally creative and inventive entrepreneur with a nose for opportunity. They know when people truly care and show respect for others.
A recent conversation, for example, with the head of a private-owned enterprise in steel in China with more than 100 professionals revealed that although the boss is considered a decent manager, he clearly is no leader. “He doesn’t seem to be concerned who I am or what I do. I’ve been here over a few years and he has never asked about my my wife, my children or any of my personal interests.” Understandably, this talent plans to move on as soon as he can.
Think of some of the colloquial terms that describe many managers and administrators who are not leaders: control freak, compliance, custodial, policies and procedures, bureaucrat, dominating or dictatorial, nitpicker, blamer, manipulator, self-centered, and so on. It is no wonder entrepreneurial leaders are winning the race to attract and keep the best talent.
Unique requirements for control for leaders. A good leader is capable of building a star team. Ventures that do not have teams are not necessarily predestined for the new venture graveyard. Yet building a higher-potential venture without a team is extremely difficult. Some entrepreneurs have acquired a distaste for partners, and some lead entrepreneurs can be happy only if they are in complete control; that is, they want employees, not partners, either internally or as outside investors.
A senior government official in China told me that the wish of China CEOs to expand rapidly without being reined in by conditions poses an ongoing problem for venture capitalists. He feels that the dream of China CEOs is to be able to embark on a fast-growth trajectory without share dilution and without interference with their management. Also, they want to raise funds or take a bank loan and do their own thing in the China market without putting up any form of collateral. An unresolvable dilemma? He cites the example of Jack Ma of Alibaba, who successfully merged Alibaba with Yahoo China, without share dilution of Alibaba. Yahoo U.S. also does not interfere in his operations.
Requirements of Control for leaders varies by stage. The stage of the company matters. As with the other stages, the length of time it takes to go through the high-growth stage, as well as the magnitude of change occurring during the period, varies greatly. Probably the most difficult challenge for the founding entrepreneur occurs during the high-growth stage, when he or she finds it is necessary to let go of power and control (through veto) over key decisions that he or she has always had, and when key responsibilities need to be delegated without abdicating ultimate leadership and responsibility for results. But the challenges do not end there. For example, Atlaspost.com is one of the highly successful social networking websites among Taiwan’s top internet innovations, over the past two years, it has become one of the top three websites for online social networking for Taiwan internet users and beyond, the genesis of this website comes from two very authentic founders, Kuo Shu-chi and Kuo Chia-chi (Andy Kuo),they are brothers that come with different talents and personalities. Prior to the founding of Atlapost.com, Andy’s Yahoo and Oracle working experiences after graduating from Stanford in 2004. Right now that registered users are around 700 thousands people, compared to other sites, only within 3 years, Atlaspost.com is already top 3 in Taiwan, and it’s still growing steadily.
- Yahoo China Profitable Next Year – Challenging Baidu and Google? – Who Knows (panasianbiz.com)
- Chinese Billionaire on the Power of American Ideas (abcnews.go.com)
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