Five minutes with Rumbi Pfende. Talking entrepreneurial leaders
Updated: Oct 1, 2019
After a short summer break, Kandu continues its entrepreneurial leader blog series where we explore opinions on what important skills and attributes make up an “entrepreneurial leader”.
1. Which change project have you led and/ or new venture have you developed, that you most proud of - and why?
Co-founding our #startup, for sure! We teach pre-reading children how to code from 3+, using our own bespoke curriculum. This is easily among the most rewarding thing I’ve done.
Ironically, both my parents were teachers - but I chose to leave home (Zimbabwe) and spend most of my #career in blue chip organisations as that was ‘what you did’ to be successful...and I was. However, being able to combine teaching young children with developing groundbreaking ways for them (and their parents and schools) to unlock their coding potential in a unique, fun and imaginative way has been the perfect marriage of education, social impact, inclusivity and #technology for me.
2. How do you identify an ‘entrepreneurial leader’?
Entrepreneurs know first-hand how much sacrifice and risk goes into creating something new, and in that sense it’s no different for a driven #entrepreneur within an existing organisation. The first identifier is always passion - they’re not passive / compliant, and will often question the status quo.
Of course there’s a difference between proactivity and complaining - an #entrepreneurialleader provides solutions, and more importantly, is willing to make time and potentially risk their reputations to bring an idea or solution to life.
A good leader in this space is also always visible through their team - their focus and passion is reflected in how the team works; how they drive the business forward as one, and learn / adapt quickly.
Arguably anyone can be an entrepreneur, but if you or I are unable to instil belief, faith and commitment in others so they support us and follow our vision, then it’s unlikely our businesses would succeed in the long term.
Leadership is the only way that an idea becomes a sustainable reality, and I am a firm believer that a leader only as good as their team. Therefore, it’s in my (and all leaders’) interests to empower team members; to pay attention and support them first in order to bring a vision to life - while earning their loyalty by being fair, honest, decisive and unambiguous.
3. What do you think are the most important skills and/or attributes that make up a successful entrepreneurial leader?
There can be a lot of uncertainty in the early days, and accessing company resources to try something new can feel high-risk. The ability to be clear and concise to gain buy-in from decision-makers and your team is crucial at this stage. It’s up to the leader to ensure they communicate clearly so everyone knows what they’re doing, why and how so they can get to where they need to be.
I’d also add transparency to that - the talented individuals in your team are investing in you and it’s crucial they feel involved and understand what is happening in the short, medium and long term. It’s the most effective way to build loyalty and passion. Beyond that, tenacity - it’s not always easy to effect #change!
4. Which of these skills or attributes, speaking from your own experience, are developed through nurture or nature?
My background is business development in startup environments (albeit within blue chip companies) so I always loved selling in ideas, making connections and of course closing the deal. It’s come naturally to me but I do believe communication style (clearly conveying ideas, thoughts and plans) can be learned, especially once you understand how critical it is to your business. It’s entirely possible to change the way you do things if you’re invested in the process - I’ve seen it happen with former employees and colleagues who are now in senior roles.
With regards to transparency, this is a conscious decision. I’ve found that my #teams stayed close to me - especially in challenging times - because they understood we were in it together, and critically, they understood why events were unfolding as they were. This made a huge difference in the likelihood of successfully coming out of the other side.
5. 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?
I think organisations always have the potential to uncover their own ‘#intrapreneurs’. The only way to make that happen though is facilitation - ensure there a space where someone with a great idea can:
approach a senior advocate to help them be heard
have the opportunity to pitch their idea and be taken seriously, and
have the opportunity to do a test run if viable.
There’s no point in paying lip service about wanting great ideas if everyone in the organisation believes they’ll be ultimately be quashed.
On an individual level, and especially if you’re a manager, the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ (this also goes back to transparency) is particularly relevant. Share challenges that your team can feed into (within reason) and show that you value their input by encouraging them to problem-solve.
Share their ideas and pass them on to an influencer or decision-maker - and always, always ensure you give credit where it’s due. Positive reinforcement encourages repeat behaviour!
Find out more about Rumbi at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rumbipfende/.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
And lastly, find out more about Kandu! Visit www.wekandu.io or email us at email@example.com for a demo. We can help your organisation to collect objective data to track the progress and return on investment of your #leadership or #change development programmes, track the impact of supporters (such as managers, #mentors and peers) on leadership development, and reduce programme admin time as we provide developing leaders with automated guidance and access to support.