The financial landscape in the education sector has placed an uncomfortable pressure on the roles of school leaders. As the education sector struggles to balance the books, school leaders have to undertake new measures to survive. The pressure to change happens in all aspects of life, however, people still fear change. Change can appear uncertain, complex and time-consuming to those that are uncomfortable in its presence. To the entrepreneur, change is an opportunity for learning and growth. It’s an opportunity to better oneself or the organisation they lead, but what makes an entrepreneur?
The first point to note is you aren’t born an entrepreneur. You become an entrepreneur. Gallup studied more than 1,000 entrepreneurs to arrive at a short list of the ten qualities that made them highly successful in leading change. They are:
Business-focused: they base decisions on the potential to turn a profit
Confident: they know themselves well and can read others
Creative Thinkers: they know how to turn an existing product or idea into something even better
Delegators: they don't try to do it all
Determined: they battle their way through difficult obstacles
Independent: they will do whatever it takes to succeed in the business
Knowledge-seekers: they constantly hunt down information that will help them keep the business growing
Promoters: they do the best job as spokesperson for the business
Relationship-builders: they have high social intelligence and an ability to build relationships that aid their firm's growth
Risk-takers: they have good instincts when it comes to managing high-risk situations
Do you recognise any of these traits in yourself?
The second important point to note is that entrepreneurs are leaders, not managers. The skills listed above are useful for inspiring, directing and motivating others to follow you, not for you to monitor them.
And the final point is entrepreneurs aren’t the best at what their organisation does. Sir Richard Branson isn’t the world's best pilot and yet he leads a successful airline. Branson shared the story of how a cancelled flight gave him the inspiration to found Virgin Airlines.
“The whole reason we got into the airline industry was based on an unplanned situation, which at the time was very unfortunate but turned into the opportunity of a lifetime,” Branson said. “I was trying to get to the British Virgin Islands to holiday with my then girlfriend, now wife, Joan, when my flight was cancelled. Desperate to meet Joan, I chartered a plane, borrowed a blackboard and wrote Virgin Airlines on the top of the blackboard, $39 one way to BVI.”
“I rounded up all the passengers who had been bumped, and filled up my first plane. Annoyed by the experience, I later called Boeing to find out if they had any second-hand 747s for sale and the rest, as they say, is history!”
Next generation entrepreneurs
It can be a challenge to develop your entrepreneurial spirit in an education setting. The lack of resource and bureaucracy inherent in the sector make it difficult to demonstrate initiative and jump on opportunities, as Sir Richard Branson did.
If your school needs to change to weather this financial storm, my top tip for success is to pick an entrepreneur to lead your school. If you’re courageous enough to take on that role and need to acquire these entrepreneurial skills then a good place to start is with the quality of determination.
So, are you inspired and determined to be the next Branson of school business management? If you want to become a ‘next generation’ entrepreneur, and for a more detailed insight into entrepreneurship in school business management, sign up to my workshop Join the vanguard of next generation school business leaders championing business culture.
I look forward to meeting you at this year’s ASCL Conference for Business Leaders.
ASCL's Conference for Business Leaders is on 16 May 2017 at Hilton Birmingham Metropole NEC