How to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit in your coworkers | Weatherhead

How to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit in your coworkers

Posted 6.14.2016

The career of the CEO is infamously lonely, but entrepreneurs do not flourish simply as delegators of their own business ideas. A true entrepreneur sparks a desire for deeper human connection, a need to spread their passion. As you forge your way as a leader, consider how you can empower the people around you to discover the same entrepreneurial spirit that guides you.

1. Stay actively curious.

If you believe in the power of entrepreneurship, you want everyone to experience it. Ask your colleagues what their passions are. Find out what makes them happy, what they look forward to, and what they want to see more of every day.

Resisting the urge to compare their passions to your own career path, you have the power to open your colleagues’ minds to the entrepreneurial possibilities in their everyday lives simply by asking the right open-ended questions. Here are a few to try this week at the water filter or over lunch:

  • How are you feeling today? (Continue to ask different versions of this questions to get past the, “Fine. How are you?” stage.)
  • What do you want more than anything?
  • What’s missing in your life right now?
  • What are you most grateful for?
  • What is your dream?
  • What do you need to ask for help with this week?






As you spark more meaningful, curious conversations, check out the Conversation Starters app for helpful questions to ask.

2. Be willing to make some sacrifices.

Getting to know someone—and empower her—might involve a few uncomfortable situations. As you build relationships designed to spark another’s entrepreneurial spirit, that person will need to trust you. And trust requires vulnerability on your part. What have been your fears, setbacks, and powerful motivators throughout your career and personal life? Reveal the details of your story, even if you aren’t asked about it specifically. By sharing, particularly if you’re in a leadership position, you build trust and show that you’re committed to starting a relationship that both people can benefit from.

3. Dig for honest feedback.

Remember to follow these steps in order; without building trust through curiosity and vulnerability, your feedback means little to the budding entrepreneur. You probably have an internal lean toward positivity or negativity. While your lean can be adjusted over time, leaders frequently turn to what’s most natural. When providing feedback, it’s essential to keep your lean in check. If possible, prepare your thoughts beforehand so you can adjust the praise-to-constructive-criticism ratio.

In 2013, Harvard Business Review published an article covering their research of the ideal praise-to-criticism ratio, stating that the highest performing teams have a ratio of nearly 6:1. Negative feedback makes a significant impact, so remember to provide it sparingly. However, HBR states, negative comments do help “leaders overcome serious weaknesses,” along with having the ability to grab attention and prevent complacency.

As you help your colleagues discover their entrepreneurial spirits, it will take work to provide the right feedback at the right time. Never shy away from praise, and keep in mind the power of constructive criticism.



How have you seen your coworkers light up into transformational leaders? Tell us about it! Email with your thoughts or tweet @caseweatherhead.

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