Understanding Three Archetypes: Entrepreneurs, Managers, Leaders

Entrepreneurs are people who have dreams that go far beyond currently available resources. Managers bring discipline. Leaders get organizations to look for new commitments.

Entrepreneurs are people who imagine new possibilities, as our entrepreneur management group at Harvard has defined it.  These are people who have dreams that go far beyond currently available resources.  They imagine new possibilities that create new industries. They create things that don’t exist before.  


Those things they create have to be then driven out to scale and scope and those products and services have to be produced as efficiently as one can possibly produce them.  That’s where managers come in.  They bring in discipline. They bring in habits of efficiency. They make sure that that original entrepreneurial idea can be widely disseminated and made available to society in the cheapest possible way across the world.  

However, as with all things, there are times when a great idea does come to an end and society needs those resources to be reallocated to the next thing.  This is when leaders come in and help organizations reorient themselves to recognize that what had been a great game for the last 20 or 30 years is no longer the game that it used to be.

It is very hard to get organizations to look for new commitments. To unwind existing commitments is the real hard task of leaders.  So those are the three archetypes.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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