War and pandemic. Climate change and clean water. Poverty and hunger. Racial and gender inequality.
The endless list of complex challenges facing humanity today is daunting. Additionally, many are ongoing issues that have plagued the planet for decades or more. The real problem is not the problems themselves, according to Scott Taylor of Babson College. No, it’s the leadership needed to solve them.
“One thing that keeps me awake at night, as a leadership scholar, is why do we have these long-standing issues and challenges in the world?” says Taylor, professor of organizational behavior and holder of the Arthur M. Blank Chair in Values-Based Leadership at Babson. “We are not able to bring together the people, the resources, the knowledge, the capacities and we do not have the sufficient influence to solve these very complex problems. There is a breakdown in leadership, so there is a major need.
It is entrenched leadership models — not the leaders themselves, Taylor says — that cause society to fail. There is an urgent need for a new model of leadership. Babson’s research, led by Taylor, created this model.
To solve the most complex problems, he says, the world needs entrepreneurial leadership.
A revolutionary model
The first definitions of entrepreneurial leadership date from the early 1990s, and at the forefront of the development of the concept are Babson professors such as Danna Greenberg, Walter H. Carpenter Professor of Organizational Behavior whose book, The New Entrepreneurial Leader: Developing Leaders Who Shape Social and Economic Opportunitywas published in 2011. Since then, entrepreneurial leadership has grown in popularity, particularly as a professional skill and an academic pursuit.
As the longtime #1 school for teaching entrepreneurship, Babson College is uniquely positioned to take the lead in entrepreneurial leadership. With a $50 million gift from Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98 in 2019, Babson launched the Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership.
“It’s our DNA. We live it, we practice it, we teach it,” Taylor says. “We’re uniquely qualified because of that history, those connections, those relationships, but I think there’s has another element to that: we want to be able to help the world solve these complex problems.”
At Babson’s Blank School, Taylor led fellow Babson’s extensive work to research and advance entrepreneurial leadership, which is taking a big step forward this year. Taylor will present the Blank School’s research this summer at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, the premier conference for management and organization scholars. Additionally, the team’s academic paper on entrepreneurial leadership will soon be submitted to a leading academic journal.
Most notably, Babson’s Blank School research created the first academic model to explain entrepreneurial leadership. Existing definitions are mostly rooted in either entrepreneurship or leadership. Babson’s model, however, aims to expand and clarify the definition by integrating the two fields and incorporating neuroscience in a revolutionary way.
Simply put, Taylor describes entrepreneurial leadership as “the ability to help people in influential ways have an increased ability to recognize and act on entrepreneurial opportunities.”
“We’re not just talking about businesses here,” Taylor says. “We’re talking about solving complex problems, building sustainable organizations that impact the environment, economy and society.”
The traditional view of leadership often relies on a singular heroic figure – a dominant leader who directs his followers towards a common goal. And, existing definitions of entrepreneurial leadership borrow from “transformational leadership,” which focuses on leaders who can change a social system or a group of people in some way.
“But, that foundation of transformational leadership that entrepreneurial leadership sits on is now a bit fragile,” Taylor says. What is missing are the relationships between people. Babson’s model of entrepreneurial leadership focuses on critical relational dynamics, incorporating research into human motivation. “Science has helped us understand why people do what they do and what contributes to effective performance at the individual, team or organizational level. »
To begin with, business leaders need to have internal clarity. Confidently guided by their values and beliefs, they are better able to focus on others. “Our model explores how this happens from a motivational and dynamic perspective,” says Taylor.
“By developing entrepreneurial leaders, measuring their capability and impact, we’re going to be more intentional and effective in enacting entrepreneurial thought and action® in ways I don’t think we’ve even dreamed of. we could do a few years ago. I think what we will see will be extraordinary.
Scott Taylor, Arthur M. Blank Endowed Chair in Values-Based Leadership
Successful business leaders must also display and foster empathy among others. Recent research shows that the empathetic network in the brain is closely linked to innovation, creativity and prosocial behavior. However, when the empathic network is activated, the brain’s analytical network is suppressed, and vice versa.
“I believe business leaders come and go in these networks faster than other leaders, and we can increase that efficiency,” Taylor says. “This kind of knowledge must influence how we think about leadership from a relational perspective and what one needs to do to inspire and enable others and engage their intrinsic motivation for performance.”
Developing entrepreneurial leaders
More than 40 years ago, Babson revolutionized entrepreneurship by introducing it as an academic discipline that can be learned and developed. Now the College is ready to do the same for entrepreneurial leadership.
The skills needed by business leaders, including cognitive flexibility and social competence, can also be developed and even measured, Taylor says. Babson’s model includes a process for increasing the capability of business leaders, increasing collaborative efforts to solve complex problems and create value.
READ MORE: The Problem Solvers
The results could be dramatic.
“By developing entrepreneurial leaders, measuring their capability and impact, we’re going to be more intentional and effective in enacting entrepreneurial thought and action® in ways I don’t think we’ve even dreamed of. we could do a few years ago,” Taylor said. “I think what we will see will be extraordinary.”
So, with such complex and persistent issues causing sleepless nights, can business leaders really change the world?
Taylor is quick to reply, “Absolutely.
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