Secrets of Effective Entrepreneurial Leadership

Topic(s): decision making, leadership, mentoring
Publication: Leader to Leader (2013)
Article: Entrepreneurial leaders: Creating opportunity in an unknowable world
Authors: D. Greenberg, K. McKone-Sweet, H.J. Wilson
Reviewed by: Arlene Coelho

Entrepreneurial leadership can loosely be defined as an approach combining a variety of tactics: acting, thinking, and creating blueprints of endless opportunities. These opportunities are created for the leader, the organization, and society at large. Every leader at some point in time has either consciously or unintentionally employed entrepreneurial leadership. So what really is entrepreneurial leadership, what makes it so powerful, and how can it be acquired?

The authors (Greenberg, McKone-Sweet, & Wilson, 2013) employ the term entrepreneurial leadership to describe practices which bring about a wide scope of opportunity for leaders (across hierarchical levels) to succeed within an unknowable situation. With allusions to a couple of cases and data from a larger study of entrepreneurial leadership, the authors divulge three principles that form the very foundation of entrepreneurial leadership.


Principle 1: Cognitive ambidexterity – a different way of thinking
This principle essentially means that entrepreneurial leaders integrate the predictive logic (actions based on data and previous situations) of decision making with the creation logic (actions taken to learn more information and create new opportunities) to generate innovative solutions.

Principle 2: Commitment to social, environmental, and economic value creation
This principle explains how entrepreneurial leaders are unique in their decision-making ability, which leads them to newer opportunities through original thinking. Research points out that entrepreneurial leadership embodies a commitment to the social (impact on society), environmental (ecological value), and economic (monetary value) responsibility and sustainability of the business, enabling them to achieve innovative solutions.

Principle 3: Self-awareness, starting from “who I am”
This principle emphasizes that entrepreneurial leaders focus on themselves and others as a core to solving problems and making better decisions. Their deep self-awareness helps in understanding, creating, and managing crucial relationships, thus enabling them to make well-informed decisions despite being in an unknowable situation.

An amalgamation of these principles forms the very foundation of entrepreneurial leadership, defining a truly flexible leader able to succeed in situations both new and old.


The authors of this paper further go on to relate three easy-to-follow steps towards becoming an entrepreneur leader.

  • Step 1 – Stop analyzing and start acting.
  • Step 2 – Resolve to answer tough questions to create social and economic value.
  • Step 3 – Reflect on who you are and connect your passion to your profession

If leaders across the business world resolve to become entrepreneurial leaders, innovative solutions at work will rapidly increase.


Greenberg, D., Mckone-Sweet, K., & Wilson, H. J. (2013). Entrepreneurial leaders: Creating opportunity in an unknowable world. Leader to Leader, 67, 56-62. doi:10.1002/ltl.20063