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As the landscape of work changes, each new generation is becoming more and more entrepreneurial. Technological advances and the ability to work side hustles from home are factors that are driving the change. Often, people with a high aptitude for leadership envision themselves in entrepreneurial roles. However, some people will better succeed as entrepreneurs, while others are more prone to thrive in organizational leadership. How do you know which category fits you best?

I have started several businesses and nonprofits, including WealthBuilders and Tricord Global, but I’ve also served in high levels of organizational leadership as the CEO of Andrew Wommack Ministries and Charis Bible College. Though there is some overlap, I can attest to the fact that they require completely different skillsets! So, in this blog and the corresponding episode of The WealthBuilders Podcast, we dive into entrepreneurial leadership vs. organizational leadership.

Are you trying to identify becoming an entrepreneur or starting an entrepreneurial endeavor? Or are you trying to decide if organizational leadership is more up your alley? Whereas you can do both, it helps to know which way you bend. Ask yourself these four questions:

1. Do I enjoy the discovery process?

When entrepreneurs start a business, they have to do everything. Not only must they do everything—they also must learn everything. There is a discovery process involved. Entrepreneurship is for the curious and the stubbornly creative. There are five stages to the entrepreneurial discovery process:

1. Brand

2. Legal

3. Finance

4. Operations

5. Legacy

Initially, entrepreneurs must discover what revenue streams work for them and be willing to pivot. To an extent, you must follow the money. The money often indicates what serves your customer base best. When it comes to organizational leadership, the discovery process looks a lot different. Rather than starting from scratch, organizational leaders must take time to listen and learn about a pre-existing culture. Then, after discovering the process at hand, they innovate and improve. 


2. How is my risk tolerance?

Security can’t be overly important to entrepreneurs. If being safe and secure is a part of your makeup, being an entrepreneur will cause you to worry and fret. Entrepreneurs approach every day with a willingness to lay everything down and take a risk. Back in the day, I jumped out and started two churches from scratch. I also had a magazine business called Home Sweet Homes. There was a ton of risk involved, but it thrilled me. 

When it comes to organizational leadership, the risks are more relational. You’ll have to hire and promote people when unsure how they perform. There will be times when you decide to implement a new system or software, and in doing so, you take a risk on how it will affect other employees. Your paycheck and livelihood are rarely on the line, but your reputation and relationships are frequently tested.


3. Would I rather build from scratch or have materials at my disposal? 

As a beginning entrepreneur, every day is like going out and hunting for a meal. You aren’t given resources or supplies; you must acquire them. On the other hand, organizational leaders typically have materials at their disposal. The table is set (or, at least the food is in the kitchen.) You aren’t responsible for chasing the revenue; you are responsible for stewarding it. Rather than a fixation on acquiring resources, organizational leaders are responsible for steering the organization (and that can be a tremendous challenge.) 

It’s important to note that entrepreneurs must do it all when they first start out—acquiring, stewarding, and steering. To focus and scale, entrepreneurs must know when to outsource and delegate tasks. At that point, you’re acquiring people!

Related: 5 Tips to Become a Better Leader Manager


4. How are my people skills?

No matter what package leadership comes in, good people skills are required. In organizational leadership, building rapport with your primary executives is essential. Organizational leaders must consider who is around the table and discern who is the most qualified (not just the most available.) They’re also good at making the hard decisions, even to the point of letting individuals go when they’re not the right fit. 

As the saying goes, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Entrepreneurs and organizational leaders alike must learn how to abide by this principle and hone a good level of emotional intelligence. These skills can’t be learned through a blog or a book. You develop good people skills by getting in the game.

Now that we’ve discussed entrepreneurial leadership vs. organizational leadership, where do you fit? Based on your experience, would you have anything to add? Let us know in the comments!