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June 25, 2022

Entrepreneur, manager or expert – which one are you?

There are three key personality types in all businesses. Entrepreneurs, managers and experts complement each other perfectly despite thinking, communicating and working entirely differently from each other. So what does each one bring to the table, and how can they be made to work in harmony?

In the simplest of terms, experts do the work, managers ensure the work gets done, and entrepreneurs have the vision, set the long-term company goals and ensure that they are met. In practice, the interplay between these figures is not always particularly straightforward.

There is a constant tension between them, with each trying to tame the others in their own way. We all have traits of each category, but one is likely to be dominant. Not sure which one you fit into? Let’s have a quick look at what fuels each of them.

Entrepreneurs are the visionaries. They have the drive and ingenuity to successfully explore and position themselves within a market.

Entrepreneurs (the leaders)

Entrepreneurs are the visionaries. They have the drive and ingenuity to allow the organisation to successfully explore and position itself within a market. Because they look to the future – never to the past and seldom at the present – they are the catalysts for change in an organisation. They see where the organisation should be tomorrow and make plans to meet those goals. It goes without saying that this hunger for change may not always sit well with others in the company.

While focusing on their vision for the future, entrepreneurs still need to keep an eye on what’s happening in the present. That way they can see what decisions need to be made to bring their vision to fruition. And entrepreneurs are not in the business of quick fixes, preferring instead to build on and enhance the status quo.

In their push for change they try and take full control of resources and people, and this can often spark a backlash. Entrepreneurs stand out from the other two categories in that they love change and are adept at getting others to follow their lead. They are skilled at convincing people that their vision for the future is sound and at showing them what needs to change to get there.

Managers are indispensable. They are pragmatic planners and organisers, bringing order and foresight to the organisation.

Managers

Managers are indispensable. They are pragmatic planners and organisers, bringing order and foresight to the organisation. Focusing chiefly on risk mitigation, they are always looking at the past, leveraging both their experience and the organisation’s history. It’s not necessarily control that makes them tick, it’s order. They love neat, structured charts, preferably all highlighted in green, and excel at formalising and optimising the status quo.

If managers had a motto it would be, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. They don’t see any need for change once something is working perfectly. But this means they find things like promotions rather daunting. Having to leave their well-organised, properly functioning comfort zone makes them anxious.

In the table below we’ve compared managers’ and entrepreneurs’ traits. The table shows how the two differ – entrepreneurs being the leaders and catalysts for change while managers streamline existing systems as best they can – but also why both are essential.

EntrepreneursManagers
Concentrate on the what and the whyConcentrate on the how and the when
Look to the future and mark out a path to get thereLook at the past and strive to consolidate the progress made
Identify and embrace opportunitiesIdentify and overcome hurdles
Inspire and motivateManage and monitor
Acquire the resources they needOptimise use of the resources they have
Focus on people and ideasFocus on systems and planning
Encourage innovative thinkingEncourage day-to-day thinking
Threaten the status quoSafeguard the status quo
Move ahead quicklyMove ahead slowly
Happy to take risksAvoid risks

In today’s world, entrepreneur traits are the most highly prized while managers’ are viewed as hobbling company development. Nonetheless, both roles are needed, and a healthy tension between consolidating progress and the need for change is crucial.

Experts are responsible for the company’s output. Laser-focused on the present, the most important thing for them is what’s on their list for today.

Experts

Experts are responsible for the company’s output. Laser-focused on the present, the most important thing for them is what’s on their list for today. How does that compare with entrepreneurs? While an entrepreneur might wonder how their business be should run tomorrow, experts are thinking about their schedule for today. Entrepreneurs need to make sure what needs to be done is done, and experts, who know their field inside out, are the ones doing it. For experts, the only way to guarantee an excellent end result is for them to do the work themselves. And while entrepreneurs see the organisation as a system for producing a result for the client and generating profit, experts see it as the place where they work in order to meet internal goals and receive a salary.

They see themselves as the people who do everything – or at least everything that’s truly important for the company – and they know they’re the ones who produce the goods and services that clients receive. For them, working means producing something. The grand visions broadcast by the entrepreneurs and all those new processes from managers are time wasted. The same goes for the never-ending workshops and new ideas that come out of them – unless they learn something new that they can put into practice straight away. For experts, work is about getting the job done, not messing around with lofty speeches and complicated procedures.

Entrepreneurs and managers need to be able to communicate well with experts and understand that they like things as they are. Experts aren’t fans of taking risks – for them, failure jeopardises their status as an expert. So while entrepreneurs start from the future and work back to the present, defining what needs to be done for their vision to materialise, experts start from the present, praying that any future changes don’t upset the status quo too much.

So which one are you?

You’re probably now wondering which category you fall into. Are you an entrepreneur – the leader, the captain of the ship? A manager – do you bring order, foresight and efficiency to the company? Or an expert – a specialist in your field consistently producing a top-quality product for clients? If you company was a car, would you be the driver (the entrepreneur), the person making sure the car has enough fuel (the manager) or the one in charge of keeping the car in perfect working order (the expert)?

In practice, depending on how your organisation works (maybe you’re self-employed, for example), you probably wear all three hats at some point. Remember, though, that no figure is better than another, and that if a business is to succeed it needs all three. What’s crucial is understanding each figure’s role within the business and how together they make it thrive.