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Entrepreneurial Mindset and Transformational Leadership:  A Discussion for New Practitioners

by Dr. Pam Mayer, EMP Co-Author

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Springtime in Charleston, SC was an especially good time and place for new EMP practitioners to complete their certification.  The College of Charleston’s School of Professional Studies sponsored the event, and welcomed participants from North and South Carolina.  Coming from a variety of different backgrounds, attendees were interested in using the EMP in higher education, with leaders of not-for-profit organizations, and also for helping K-12 teachers in their design of innovative curricula. It seems that the search for creative and “transformational” leadership knows no bounds and definitely is not confined to any particular environment. As stated by Lisa Piazzola, Owner of The Professional Learning Collaborative:  “As an educational consultant and leadership coach, the EMP has empowered me to personally understand my own leadership capabilities in relationship to leaders in the corporate world and in business.  I learned that my strengths are in my preference for limited structure as well as passion for my work.  This perfectly explains why starting my own company was an excellent decision that has resulted in a highly successful first two years.”

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As part of the certification discussion, EMP co-author and program facilitator, Pam Mayer, shared a quick reference chart which draws on some of our recently published correlations between selected EMP dimensions and the following well-established, Big Five personality factors:  Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (Davis, Hall, & Mayer, 2016).  Using the chart as well as a study on the role of transformational leadership in promoting corporate entrepreneurship (Ling, Simsek, Lubatkin and Veiga, 2008), participants addressed questions regarding EMP applications at the team level, i.e., “We know good leaders are both energizing and stimulating, but how do they create an entrepreneurial mindset within their teams?”  Following are examples of some of the key discussion points as they relate to EMP scales:

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1. Preference for Limited Structure (Personality) – A preference for a less-structured work environment may indicate that you are open to varied experiences. Entrepreneurial thinkers tend to value flexibility when addressing challenging issues; they enjoy providing an environment for exploring innovative practices and non-traditional ideas.

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2. Self Confidence (Skills) – Confidence can be the critical factor in exploring unchartered territory and discovering new opportunities. Entrepreneurial thinkers understand that challenging the status quo is a necessary step toward innovation and are not always willing to sacrifice good ideas for the sake of mutual agreement.

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3. Passion (Personality) – Enthusiasm for your work creates further reason for you to interact with others. Entrepreneurial thinkers have such an obvious love for what they do that it can be natural for them to want to share that passion with others and to be more extraverted in the focus of this energy.

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4. Optimism (Skills) – If you see the glass as half-full, you are likely to be less anxious about obstacles you encounter along the way.  Optimism leverages your emotional maturity and creates stability in the long term.  Entrepreneurial thinkers will have setbacks, of course, but such hurdles do not alter their ability to believe in a positive future.

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5. Need to Achieve (Personality) ─Your level of personal motivation is often reflected through conscientious practices such as the ability to follow through and execute on priorities. Entrepreneurial thinkers have a strong drive to attain ambitious milestones, and their disciplined behavior is reflective of their desire to be the very best at what they do.

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Although certification workshop participants gave high ratings to all of the activities, they especially appreciated the opportunity for EMP practice coaching.  As a first step, Dr. Mayer demonstrated good techniques by doing a mock feedback session with a staff member at the School of Professional Studies who had agreed ahead of time to participate.  A central part of this preparatory activity included sharing samples of effective coaching questions.  Later, each person participated in a series of three rounds where they took turns coaching someone, being coached by another attendee, and observing/giving feedback to another coaching duo.  After all these rounds were completed, Dr. Mayer debriefed with the entire group as a whole.  Many of the participants gained significant insight from these activities and reported that they had a much clearer understanding, not only of the entrepreneurial mindset, but also of how to interpret EMP feedback within different contexts.

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For more information on the Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile (EMP) and how you can use it with your team, please contact us at emindsetprofile@eckerd.edu or 727-864-8827.

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