Entrepreneurial mindset: A top demand skill for engineering leaders 💊
The entrepreneurial mindset is a set of skills and attitudes that make all the difference. Develop it will help you become a unicorn in the tech industry.
Have you ever stopped to think about what makes entrepreneurs unique?
What makes them leave a secure job, gamble everything to solve a problem they have identified in the society and never give up?
Better yet, how can they stay focused, perform at the highest level, radiating optimism and attract the best talent, despite endless work days, debts or commitments, fierce competition and an uncertain environment?
The entrepreneurial mindset is a set of skills and attitudes that make all the difference. — From passion to resilience to communication and problem-solving, entrepreneurs exhibit qualities that are highly desirable in any position in any organization.
You will agree that successful leadership in tech requires much more than this entrepreneurial mindset — but having the mindset, attitude, business knowledge, and vision will make a HUGE difference from the first contact.
In this LIDR Pill #30, I'll describe what the entrepreneurial mindset is for me, what it stands for, how to develop it, plus some extra tips you can use to stand out as an engineering lead (or any other IC role).
The entrepreneurial mindset
For me, it means behaving like a founder/CEO — whether you are a junior developer or the CTO. It is an attitude towards work, regardless of where you are in the organization.
It means feeling the company's ownership and doing everything in the business' best interest. It means thinking about the customer and the problem the company is trying to solve.
It's an attitude that only brings great things.
As a serial entrepreneur, and now trying to help others to grow as leaders, I tried to dissect the different aspects of the mindset by asking: what do you need to launch a company successfully?
For that, I’ve identified 4 pillars, 4 skills that differentiate successful entrepreneurs:
Entrepreneurs are responsible and accountable for everything that happens, and they do whatever it takes to succeed. They risk their income, risk their own money for a dream.
You own each project, feel it as yours, involving other skills as:
Passion: you deeply want to solve that problem in the world, and love the work it involves to make it happen, even if you don’t like some of the tasks.
Problem-solver: You are a natural problem-solver. Entrepreneurship is just about that: solving a relevant problem for customers. Think about anyone requesting anything as a final customer, treat them like that, and check the difference.
Resilience: You keep pushing, even when things look hard. You know is part of the process, you know how to get extra energy in that moments, and you don’t give up.
An entrepreneur starts from 0, a blank page. She doesn’t find a guide there, no processes, no tools, no documents, no clients or sales, there is NOTHING.
She creates the path. She has her own inner compass that guides her. In fact, it is that compass that takes her off the beaten path against her comfort.
Self-guidance involves other high-desirable skills as:
Proactivity: you don’t wait for anyone to solve your problems. You just go out, face the challenges and find the answers and solutions by yourself.
Self-motivation: you come motivated from home. You know why you do what you do, and you shape your environment to facilitate doing it.
Autonomy: you can work on your own, others’ support, but don’t block. Others advise, but you don’t need them to tell you what to do.
Once entrepreneurs have the path, they have to create everything from scratch, everything comes out of their heads. Not only the product but also the entire structure that a company requires to operate, from people and skills to HOW they all operate: the culture!
Creativity: you find new ways to solve problems. you are curious, you experiment, and try out new things without the fear of failure. You learn fast, think outside the box and use a different approach to problems.
Customer orientation: You need to be customer-oriented, value their voices, their feedback, and be close to them to guide your decisions. You think outside of the box and use a different approach to problems.
Faith: You act with confidence, even when no one believes in yourself or is even able to understand your product. You are not afraid of failure or mistakes along the way, you are fully aware that success will not come at first.
Continuous improvement: Everything could be better. You are not self-indulgent. You always want it better and are ambitious. Nothing is set in stone. You are aware of the VUCA environment you live in and the competitive advantage of adapting quickly.
Entrepreneurs require others to fulfil their dream. — From a team that helps them co-create and sell the product, investors who finance the activity, customers who buy… They need highly developed communication skills to be able to adapt to all these environments and reach their main goals.
Skills that make you a great communicator:
Adaptability: Different profiles, different personalities, different objectives. You need to be capable to adapt to each environment, from reporting to business stakeholders to a motivational speech to your engineering team.
Effective communication, verbal and non-verbal. Clear and concise messages. Empathic, honest, and vulnerable attitude. You know that the important ones are the others, and you give them the importance they require.
Optimist: Sometimes irrational belief in your purpose, there is no challenge, problem, or challenge that can sink you. You always think positive, see opportunities and value the learning gained: the experience points only add up, each action and decision bring success closer.
Team player: You know that you can go further and faster with a team. You value that each person has a special superpower. You know that you depend on others to make your dream come true. Likewise, you delegate with confidence and are demanding, you make others participate in the triumphs, you accompany and facilitate them to achieve the goals.
Inspiration: With your attitude, you set an example and don't stop at empty words. You work harder and are more efficient. You protect your wellness and manage your time effectively. You take time to keep growing. All of that inspires others to be better. You are a multiplier.
Successfully leading tech teams requires much more than this entrepreneurial mindset, but having this mindset will make the difference from the first contact, and it all evolves at all leadership levels.
At the end, developing this key mindset will help you become a unicorn in the industry! 🦄
CTOs are often connected to the business, speak the language, communicate effectively and make decisions from a business point of view… From the interviews, CTOs are expected to have some experience to fully own the vision from a technical point of view, lead their teams autonomously, motivate team members, be an example of a high-performing individual for their teams, etc.
The problem is further down the ladder. Managers, team leaders, and developers often don't have enough exposure to the business and don't make decisions with the business in mind, leading to poor performance.