Freeing the Social Entrepreneur--Excerpts

Social entrepreneurs who are steering their organizations toward growth need to share the reins, according to an article by Chantal Laurie Below and Kimberly Dasher Tripp.

A social entrepreneur wears as diverse, if not as absurd, a collection of hats as Lady Gaga, the pop star known for putting pretty much anything on her head. Social entrepreneurs are often founder, president, manager, coordinator, planner, specialist, generalist, even, sometimes, janitor, all at the same time. While the juggling act is impressive, it’s not always productive according to an article by Chantal Laurie Below and Kimberly Dasher Tripp in this fall’s edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review:

One of the remarkable traits about social entrepreneurs is their ability to play many roles. They care deeply about how their vision is implemented and feel personally invested in the outcome. Social entrepreneurs are often so involved in all aspects of the organization that they end up holding up decision making, losing talent, and creating bottlenecks. At some point, grumblings of dissatisfaction from employees or frustrating inefficiencies emerge and need solutions.

The article, “Freeing the Social Entrepreneur,” offers the solution: a management team.

The entrepreneur must recognize that he can no longer do everything himself and preemptively prepare to let go. Before hiring any high-level managers, he needs to assess his own strengths and weaknesses honestly. Social entrepreneurs must ask themselves questions such as What do I enjoy doing? What am I really good at doing? What am I not good at doing? What kind of people do I need around me?

Based on interviews with dozens of social sector leaders, the article identifies five leadership positions that should emerge as the social entrepreneur moves away from being his organization’s Jack-of-all-trades. According to the piece, a management team should consist of a scaling partner, a connector, a program strategist, a realist, and, of course, an evangelist (that’s you, social entrepreneur!) What role, exactly, should each leader play? Read the full piece here.

This article was originally published on September 27, 2010
Related TopicsBusiness & Social Enterprise, Employment, Social Entrepreneurship

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