How to grow as an entrepreneurial leader

I have the privilege of helping to roll out the Sozo Foundation’s incubation programme at their site in Capricorn Business Park, just next to their main building in the midst of Vrygrond township.

For those who are uncertain about what a business incubator does, here is a handy definition:

A business incubator is an organisation that helps new businesses and startups grow and succeed by providing them with various types of support, such as space, capital, coaching/mentorship, training, and networking.

The support may be offered at reduced rates or no cost, depending on the incubator’s sponsor and programme.

The incubator’s goal is to accelerate the development and evolution of entrepreneurial ventures, regardless of their business mode.

One of the key inputs to the young people on the business incubation programme is that of networking and bringing in relevant and exciting speakers.

We were recently treated to delightful and inspiring input from SA Commercial’s operations executive, Mogamad Gierdien.

I hold to the value that entrepreneurship is caught and not only taught.

This requires authenticity, commitment and passion in those that have the privilege of shaping young lives.

Mr Gierdien modelled these attributes in spades.

His talk on “Entrepreneurship… are you built for it?”, was so relevant and timely that I thought to cherry-pick and add some principles for you, our readers.

Mr Gierdien started by pointing out four elements that he has observed in entrepreneurial leaders:

● They are visionary. This means that they “own” passion and are clear about what they want.

●They also know how to unlock the people around them.

● They know how to navigate, manage and mitigate the risk and this is part of the journey.

● They know how to grow and lead in the multiple roles they often have to embrace.

He added that no one has the luxury or privilege of not knowing these capacities/skills.

In this dialogue, Mr Gierdien asked the beneficiaries present to identify what key attributes are critical competencies for entrepreneurs?

I was impressed with the depth of answers that came from the floor in the arena.

Nine of these attributes listed were: discipline; determination; courage/grit and tenacity; passion; honesty; integrity; responsibility/accountability; trust and finally respect.

The interesting thing about attributes like these is that one can actually do something about one’s development over time.

You may have few of these capacities today, but the choice to develop these can make a massive difference.

For example, you may be lacking in discipline right now. Yet that does not have to be the end of the story.

Those who have achieved in life have all, in some way, embraced the rigours of discipline, been consistent, and kept growing.

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” − Jim Rohn, entrepreneur and author.

Many beneficiaries start from a low base of confidence.

That’s why this quote on discipline by entrepreneur and author, Robert Kiyosaki is so important. “Confidence comes from discipline and training.”

Mr Gierdien went on to unpack five key thoughts on leadership:

● Leaders are those who inspire

They do not have the luxury of switching off. This takes practise.

It reminds me of the quote by author, salesman, and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

● Leaders are great storytellers

Mr Gierdien modelled this by relating real life stories that echoed the principles. So, a key skill is to learn how to tell great stories.

● Leaders start early

Mr Gierdien referenced a popular book called The 5am Club by Robin Sharma.

I wholeheartedly agree. I have found huge value in getting up at 5am, even when my first engagement is only at 8am or 9am.

I see the time from 6am to 8am as crucial to create margin for the rest of the day.

● Leaders coach others

It has been my privilege to be in the coaching profession for two decades now, in community situations and business coaching scenarios.

I found the areas of highest influence, impact and change resulted from a coaching approach in leadership.

● Leaders articulate their vision

Leaders should learn how to position and articulate well what they are doing.

Sharpen up on your skills to communicate well in your conversations with others.

So here are nine entrepreneurial attributes and five leadership competencies for you to consider, embrace and grow in.

Let me close with a quote by actress Jane Fonda: “Stay curious, keep learning and keep growing. And always strive to be more interested than interesting.”

● Steve Reid runs his own business in support of entrepreneurs, leaders and incubators.

He can be contacted at