By ANDREW LITTLE
I was recently described/defined as an intrepreneur. No, me neither. Quick check, two meanings:
– individual who works in corporate but behaves like entrepreneur
– individual who partners with entrepreneur to manage/grow business
Well interesting. I have done both. A couple of the additional insights offered were around the entre having the ideas, the intre managing them (reasonable, although the insistence that I had likely never had an original idea in my life seems harsh, although my music is a touch derivative!).
A second ponderable concerns the word dilettante, also associated with the intrepreneur definition. Luke Johnson in the Sunday Times offered the view that entrepreneurs are ‘obsessives, not dilettantes’, intrepreneurs necessarily inexpert in their compunction to flit from business to business, sector to sector. I have certainly worked with founders displaying both characteristics. Undoubtedly ideas men and women, but not always focussed on just one (the main thing). So I would like to offer a different and perhaps more positive take on the intrepreneur.
My preferred descriptor is empathist – ‘ the ability to identify with or understand anothers feelings’ – some might call this marketing (!). However, empathy is a vital trait in working with entrepreneurs and their ideas, and of course attuning those ideas to the understanding of growing markets. Empathy also moves winningly from the marketing to the sales discipline. We have all witnessed the salesman who moves direct to the thirty slide power-point without asking a single question. The empathist will immediately seek to engage, to prompt, to listen, to learn – and then shape arguments and responses around those valuable insights.
So entrepreneur + intrepreneur = success? No, of course not, but the addition (dare I say partnership) does provide a balance of complementary skills and indeed passions. Empathy as a vital trait for successful managers working with entrepreneurs? Without a trace of bias, I would say so!
“Empathy is a vital trait for managers working with entrepreneurs.”