• Nina Lovelace

Five minutes with Mike Jenkins. Talking entrepreneurial leaders

Kandu continues its entrepreneurial leader blog series where we explore opinions on what important skills and attributes make up an “entrepreneurial leader”.


This week we talk to Mike Jenkins and a founding director of the financial technology and services intermediary Services Family Ltd.


They trade as equals®. The heart of the business is a culture supported by technology to better match customer risk with financial products.


Which change project have you led and/ or new venture have you developed, that you most proud of - and why?


In a previous life, I was the Head of #Transformation for a unique defence restructuring project. It was particularly challenging as it crossed long-standing cultural and financial boundaries yet, the small team delivered ahead of time and below budget – what made me most proud was it was recognised as a resounding success across government.


How do you identify an #entrepreneurialleader?


I think the word entrepreneurial is becoming overused; its now adopted by anyone who sets up a #business. In my view, an entrepreneur is not someone who has seen a market opportunity for a start-up but realised a different objective and had the courage to act upon that realisation; this means a new business model, or #innovation or a radically new approach. Therefore, a true entrepreneur is a #leader not just a clever manager.


What do you think are the most important skills and/or attributes that make up a successful entrepreneurial leader?


Vision and the practical translation of that into actions which are achievable and understandable, coupled to the ability to motivate all stakeholders and maintain a cohesive #team during delivery of “business as usual” and during periods of adversity.


The ability to step outside of themselves and recognise pet projects or bad ideas early and accept the need to #pivot or change direction. They also use #risk management thinking across all aspects of the business. Learning and teaching from experience, mishaps or failure.


Which of these skills or attributes, speaking from your own experience, are developed through nurture or nature?


From our trademark equals® I guess it’s obvious that we believe that people/customers should be treated equally but, that doesn’t mean that they are ‘equal’ at any point of their life stage or personal journey. Everybody is unique and each ‘context’ is unique.


Many of the #skills a leader requires can be nurtured but some are ‘nature’ – leadership is like sport; some people are just better and more attuned than others. But, with some humility, a good leader can, just like in sport, sponsor another to be their change champion and influencer – showing a key attribute of real leadership.

Leadership is like sport; some people are just better and more attuned than others. But, with some humility, a good leader can, just like in sport, sponsor another to be their change champion and influencer – showing a key attribute of real leadership.

This most important attribute is the recognition that there are other people around them, or in their team, who are better at some things than they; the true leader understands their own limitations and motivates those around them to ‘fill in their gaps’ and to deliver success.


What top tips or ‘hacks’ do you have for anyone wanting to make small changes now to be more entrepreneurial, or to create entrepreneurial cultures for their teams?


Not ‘mindset’, I prefer attitude – having the right attitude is really important to go with aptitude. There are just too many ‘one size fits all’ books on leadership; it’s an industry. So, my only tip is that I don’t think leadership can be learnt from a book and therefore….


My only ‘hack’ comes from a thirst to learn. YOU, as a unique individual, can be the best leader you can be if you:

  1. are brave enough to operate outside your comfort zone,

  2. listen AND LEARN from peers and subordinates and

  3. engage, really engage, with people who have shown leadership and decision skills – failures and/or successes.

Leadership is a human behavioural skill and so, is best developed engaging with humans!

For your team, what you do for yourself needs to be common for your team – encourage challenge, reward #success and learn from #failure. Lessons should be shared and discussed in a ‘just culture’. You and your people make mistakes, live with it, learn from it. A great example of this methodology is the development of flight safety in the aviation industry – accident rates fell dramatically while availability and customer service shot through the roof.

You and your people make mistakes, live with it, learn from it. A great example of this methodology is the development of flight safety in the aviation industry – accident rates fell dramatically while availability and customer service shot through the roof.

And lastly, how can organisations better support their potential entrepreneurial leaders, and why should they do that?


In a small organisation, I’d expect the executives to be accessible to the whole team and so be able to identify and support #talent – recognising that some people/egos in the organisation might feel threatened by team members or subordinates who are ‘better than them’ in some respect.


In a larger organisation, a ‘dropbox’ or email where people can present good ideas and access the executives or decision makers. If you feel you can’t do this or expect a lot of rude emails if you did, then you have a bigger problem – a bad culture or a toxic management or executive team for those looking up. The best entrepreneurial leaders create a culture of ‘all in it together’ to deliver well communicated and understandable goals for success.


Find out more about Mike and his work at https://equals.financial and https://theservicesfamily.com.



Would you like to mentor or advise developing entrepreneurs or #intrapreneurs#intrapreneurs? Join our Pool and we will seek opportunities for you in Kandu's client networks.


Do you know of a fabulous entrepreneurial leader in your organisation, who has achieved a tangible difference to customers and/or colleagues? Then let us know at hello@wekandu.io.


And lastly, find out more about Kandu! Visit www.wekandu.io or email us at hello@wekandu.io for a demo. We can help your organisation to collect objective data to track the progress and return on investment of your #leadership#leadership or #change#change development programmes, track the impact of supporters (such as managers, #mentors#mentors and peers) on leadership development, and reduce programme admin time as we provide developing leaders with automated guidance and access to support.