Candidate Resources, Management Tips

Do You Have an Entrepreneurial Spirit?

The meaning of this term is inherently confusing. It’s time to clarify it so you can build yours up and drive your professional and personal success!

The Conundrum: We hear terms like “entrepreneurial spirit” wafting around places like linkedin often as we scour requirements and qualifications on new job openings. These terms are oft coupled with terms like, “must be a team player” and “must take direction well”. It’s a plus if you’re “process oriented” and you certainly must “possess a positive attitude”, but if you don’t have a desire to “ideate” and “implement” new processes in order to “drive efficiency”, then you need not apply. It gets challenging when expectations to take direction well, and, thrive in a structured environments are juxtaposed with the expectation that your creative thinking can upend an existing modelー am I right?

All of this can make it awfully difficult to understand what it really means to be qualified for a role. It can certainly be confusing to self-reflect and consider how, at once, you can be on both sides of the spectrum ーwilling to be scrappy, do what it takes, and intelligently suggest improvements, all while making certain to steer the course without rocking the boat. So how does one deal? What is this mystical “entrepreneurial spirit” truly referring to? What gives?

The Breakdown: Possessing an entrepreneurial spirit differs from actually being an entrepreneur, because it’s a mindset. It is however, a mindset that is all about owning your responsibilities. In a similar way to how an entrepreneur, founder or investor owns their business and its outcomes financially, to possess this mindset, you need to consider your effort and energy as your currency. The more you put in, like a financial investment in a bright business idea, the more (hopefully!) you will get out. Taking ownership of your job responsibilities is where this spirit plays into your career, and it’s important to employers. By thinking like a business owner, a founder, or even an investor, you are taking on full accountability for you actions, inactions, and outcomes. Doing so will help you manage ーpiece by pieceー your own contributions to the company you work for which will help you add value to your team, and build trust with leadership. In doing these, you will possess one of the most sought after skills top businesses are seeking in their next new hires.

The Key Characteristics:

Here are 3 traits that exemplify what it means to have the intangible mindset that is an entrepreneurial spirit.

Growth Mindset ー This is a way of thinking in which you are always seeking opportunities to improve upon yourself, learn and grow. You also don’t see failures as roadblocks, but merely as a vehicle to learn something new and become smarter. This does not simply mean you’re attempting to climb the corporate ladder ー it means you are constantly iterating how you perform and are seeking opportunities to learn and grow. By doing so, quite simply, you do! There’s a great definition of it here, and how it differs from its opposite, a “fixed” mindset to offer greater detail (which is not very entrepreneurial at all!).

Grace under Fire ー The pressure is on. Work is hard. Deadlines are real. How you handle stress, pressure and high expectations that are set forth upon you (by yourself, or by others) can indicate your ability to take ownership and responsibility in all areas of your life. Are you able to maintain calm and take action to improve situations? Are you solution-oriented?  Are you able to make recommendations for how to best handle a challenge? If you answered yes, then that’s the spirit right there! And say you make an error ー can you take criticism in stride and recover quickly from a downfall? Can you fail forward and use your learning to make immediate improvements? That’s accountability, which goes hand in hand with ownership, and it’s a key factor of the entrepreneurial spirit.

Emotional Intelligence ー We’ve written about this one before and it remains extremely important. An entrepreneurial mindset also includes ownership of your own thoughts and behaviors. Summarized briefly in 5 key traits, 1. Self-Awareness; 2. Self-Regulation; 3. Motivation; 4. Empathy and 5. Social Skills, EI or EQ as it is also known will make or break your success outcomes at work. This earlier post from the article sums it up well, and can help you through how to express that you possess it in your next interview situation. Wearing your emotions on your sleeve is fine if you’re watching your best friend get married, but not in the workplace.

The Takeaway: Each of these traits hinge on each other and they all must be taken into consideration in order to boost your own entrepreneurial spirit. We’re hoping this breakdown has helped you either self-identify as having it, or at least recognize gaps you need to fill in to shift your own mental tendencies.

So, do you have the spirit of an entrepreneur? Use it to your maximum advantage! If you’re interviewing, be sure to share specific examples of times you have used the above traits to highlight it. Writing a list or jotting down personal anecdotes while preparing can make it easier to communicate verbally when the time comes. This practice makes all the difference in how you articulate your strengths in an interview, and give yourself an edge by possessing it. Telling your story and articulating your soft-skills, like the elusive entrepreneurial spirit, can set you apart ー and in a good way! ー in the most competitive candidate pools.