En­tre­pre­neur psy­chol­ogy pro­file

Lesotho Times - - Jobs -

THE Steve Job­ses of the world have some­thing in com­mon. In fact, ac­cord­ing to or­ga­ni­za­tional psy­chol­ogy re­search, they share at least four per­son­al­ity traits: They’re gen­er­al­ists rather than spe­cial­ists. A 2013 Swiss-ger­man study found that while em­ploy­ees are spe­cial­ists, en­trepreneurs are gen­er­al­ists.

Founders have a di­verse set of skills — af­ter all, they have to man­age the many ten­drils of a busi­ness. Plus, they tend to have a di­verse net­work of re­la­tion­ships, one that they can call on when launch­ing com­pa­nies.

“It is the jacks-of-all-trades across a whole port­fo­lio of in­di­vid­ual re­sources and not the mas­ters-of-one who are likely to be­come en­trepreneurs,” write au­thors Uschi Back­esGell­ner and Pe­tra Moog.

”The mere so­cial but­ter­flies or the mere com­puter nerds are not likely to be­come en­trepreneurs be­cause they are both too im­bal­anced and thereby less likely to be suc­cess­ful as en­trepreneurs.”

Stan­ford Univer­sity economist Ed­ward P. Lazear first pro­posed the “jack of all trades” the­ory.

He found that Stan­ford MBAS who took a broader range of classes and had held a wider range of jobs were more likely to start their own thing. A fol­low-up Ger­man study repli­cated those re­sults. They’re out­ra­geously self-con­fi­dent. A third of Amer­i­can small busi­nesses col­lapse within their first five years. Two-thirds fail within 10.

Ac­cord­ing to No­bel Prize-win­ning psy­chol­o­gist Daniel Kah­ne­man, it takes a spe­cial breed to take on that kind of risk.

“A lot of progress in the world is driven by the delu­sional op­ti­mism of some peo­ple,” he told Inc. “The peo­ple who open small busi­nesses don’t think, ‘I’m fac­ing these odds, but I’ll take them any­way.’ They think their busi­ness will cer­tainly suc­ceed.”

The data backs this up: In a 1988 Pur­due Univer­sity study, 33% of 3 000 en­trepreneurs thought that they’re busi­nesses had a 100% chance of suc­cess. A 1997 Univer­sity of Hous­ton study found that en­trepreneurs are bi­ased to think they can pre­vent any­thing bad from hap­pen­ing to their busi­nesses. A 2013 study from Eras­mus Univer­sity Rot­ter- dam found that en­trepreneurs think they will live longer than ev­ery­body else.

Some­times, that con­fi­dence lapses into nar­cis­sism. They’re dis­agree­able. In his book David and Go­liath, Mal­colm Glad­well ar­gues that in­no­va­tive peo­ple are dis­agree­able: They don’t re­ally care what other peo­ple think of them. He ar­gues: In­no­va­tors need to be dis­agree­able . . . They are peo­ple will­ing to take so­cial risks — to do things that oth­ers might dis­ap­prove of.

That is not easy. So­ci­ety frowns on dis­agree­able­ness. As hu­man be­ings we are hard­wired to seek the ap­proval of those around us.

Yet a rad­i­cal and trans­for­ma­tive thought goes nowhere with­out the will­ing­ness to chal­lenge con­ven­tion.

He pro­vides com­pelling ex­am­ples: Steve Jobs didn’t sweat steal­ing the graphic user in­ter­face from Xerox PARC, and IKEA founder Ing­var Kam­prad gladly out­sourced from Swe­den to Poland while the coun­tries were hos­tile to one another.

It’s re­deemed in the re­search. A Univer­sity of Illi­nois-univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia study found that dis­agree­able peo­ple are bet­ter at de­clin­ing re­quests on their time, giv­ing them bet­ter con­trol of cal­en­dars. They’re con­sci­en­tious. In a 2003 study led by Penn­syl­va­nia Col­lege of Tech­nol­ogy man­age­ment pro­fes­sor Mark Ci­avarella, re­searchers asked 111 peo­ple that had started their own busi­nesses be­tween 1972 and 1995 to take per­son­al­ity tests.

The re­searchers were look­ing for any founders’ per­son­al­ity traits that cor­re­lated with com­pa­nies mak­ing it past the “ado­les­cent” stage, or over eight years.

The only “sig­nif­i­cant pre­dic­tor” was con­sci­en­tious­ness, or the propen­sity to plan, or­ga­nize, and take care of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

“The re­sults sug­gest that an en­tre­pre­neur needs to evolve into a man­ager to shep­herd a new ven­ture to long-term sur­vival,” Ci­avarella and his col­leagues write.

But con­sci­en­tious­ness isn’t just good for founders: The trait is linked with earn­ing more, feel­ing more sat­is­fied with your job, and liv­ing longer.

— Businessinsider.

Founders like the late Ap­ple boss steve Jobs have to man­age the many ten­drils of a busi­ness.

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