Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurs in Closely-Held Enterprises–V. The Assertive Entrepreneur

Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurs in Closely-Held Enterprises–V. The Assertive Entrepreneur

William Bergquist

In many closely-held enterprises, a forceful, clearly focused demonstration of executive authority is not only appropriate but also sorely needed. The assertive decision-making entrepreneur is one who points a closely-held enterprise in a specific direction and gets the organization moving. Heifetz describes this approach to executive functioning when he writes of people who tend to mobilize others to tackle tough problems.  Entrepreneurship, in this mode, is not just a stance or perspective. It is an activity. Assertive entrepreneurs are seen as hard working and as people who also encourage others to work hard.

Specifically, their job is to identify the gap(s) that exist between the current and desired conditions of the closely-held enterprise. The current condition is often articulated or clarified by the thoughtful entrepreneur (discussed in later essay), whereas the state in which members of the enterprise would like the organization to be is often articulated or clarified, as we will see, by the inspiring entrepreneur. The assertive entrepreneur then tries to fill the gap between this real and ideal state. Alternatively, she tries to change the organization’s appraisal of its current condition (often discounting the contributions to be made by the thoughtful entrepreneur) or commitment to its desired state (often discounting the contributions to be made by the inspiring entrepreneur). In the first instance, the assertive entrepreneur would suggest that if we can’t get from where we are to where we want to be, then perhaps we should find somewhere else to go. In the second instance, he suggests that we either rethink where we are now, or ignore the information that we have so that we don’t get bogged down in despair or pessimism.

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About the Author

William Bergquist

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant, professor in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 45 books, and president of a graduate school of psychology. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations. His graduate school (The Professional School of Psychology: www.psychology.edu) offers Master and Doctoral degrees in both clinical and organizational psychology to mature, accomplished adults.

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