“Entrepreneurial leadership” is one of those phrases that sounds impressive. But to those outside the field of leadership, it might not hold much meaning. So what is entrepreneurial leadership, exactly?
Dr. Anne Douglass, the Leadership Institute’s founder and executive director, provided an answer during a recent interview on HiMama’s Preschool Podcast, a weekly pod that features discussions with experienced leaders, practitioners, researchers, and entrepreneurs working in the field of early care and education (ECE): “So, entrepreneurial leadership is really intended to refer to leadership for change, for leadership that’s about finding better ways to solve problems and to grow and strengthen the field and to better serve children and families,” she told HiMama CEO and Preschool Podcast Host Ron Spreeuwenberg.
Douglass added that anyone can practice it, whether they are in a conventional, defined leadership role at their organization or not. “Anyone can be an entrepreneurial leader. You don’t have to have a job title. … You might be a program director, but you also might be a teacher or a family childcare provider.”
You might also be a small business owner, especially if you work in the birth-age 5 ECE sector, Douglass added, and therefore have much to offer the field in terms of expertise and innovation. Oftentimes, many ECE small business owners or sole proprietors—most of whom are women and don’t necessarily see themselves as entrepreneurs — really benefit when they redefine themselves as entrepreneurial leaders. When that happens, “they become more empowered to lead change and quality,” Douglass said.
Developing that mindset, Douglass added, is critical to entrepreneurial leadership. “That mindset piece is really the foundation for everything,” she said. “And if we don’t really help to cultivate people’s mindset as a leader then it’s really hard to kind of have other things take hold.”
Listen to the 20-minute-long podcast episode, titled “Entrepreneurial Leadership in Early Education,” or read a transcript, at HiMama’s Early Education Blog.