A Company's Goal Should Be To Nurture Inspirational Entrepreneurs (And Not Just Efficient Employees)
More than guidance, a manager or mentor has an obligation to lead by example, as a team is an emulation of their leader.
While it is popularly known for challenging standards and pushing boundaries, the entrepreneurial mindset has today been rebranded as something everyone should possess, regardless of the vocation an individual is pursuing. An entrepreneur has a vision, a tenacity, a hunger, and a go-getter attitude that drives outcomes, and these are characteristics that all employees should have. The slight nuance here is that at a company, the vision has already been established, but even then, employees will have the ability to contribute to and shape that vision, adapting it to the ever changing landscape of the industry.
An entrepreneurial mindset also inspires qualities that we at Property Finder encourage within our workforce, which include possessing the ability to predict and navigate obstacles, work with minimal supervision, inspire trust, and have an outcome orientation. Our overarching aspiration at Property Finder is to grow into a lighthouse tech company. In order to realise this goal, we strive to become a talent magnet in the region, which will enable us to attract the right talent that forms the backbone of our success. In context of this aspiration, assuming our end-goal is an art masterpiece– there is a canvas we need to paint, and we are constantly looking for high-calibre talent to come and paint alongside us; specifically speaking, good talent will have a meaningful role to play with immense impact.
We are extremely fortunate to be based in the UAE, where professionals are steeped in the rich culture of the region that inculcates strong attributes like loyalty and pride in the work they do, as well as possessing a collaborative nature that instinctively compels them to think of their colleagues’ growth, as well as their own. These are qualities that are hard to come by, and therefore a great foundation. The younger generation is extremely inspirational, and our role as their mentors and leaders is to understand and accept that they’d rather live by rules defined by them (instead of pre-defined norms and notions), nurture their ambition and ways of working, and only gently nudge (guide) them only if and when required. We need to believe in this generation and move out of their way.
The only challenge I would say when dealing with the youth, is that sometimes their confidence and direct approach may be misinterpreted as irreverence, which is counterproductive to a healthy dynamic, but other than that, I’m placing all my bets on this generation– it continues to amaze me daily. From an organizational perspective, a company needs to employ several measures to create a nurturing environment that allows its team to spread its wings and soar to new heights. For starters, we need to understand that people must get their best selves to work, which begins with ensuring that the atmosphere provided motivates people to want to come to work every day. After coming to the realization that this starts with the architecture and aesthetic of the office space itself, the senior leadership team at Property Finder took this seriously- indeed, it’s what led us to receiving an award for best corporate office interiors, something we take great pride in.
It is also important to recognize the importance of professional growth, particularly to the younger generation. We adopt a 70:20:10 approach, a conventional learning methodology that indicates people grow most when 70% is learnt on the job, 20% is learnt via focused training, and 10% is learnt through coaching. In our case, given the life stage of our organization and talent strategy, we seek talent that possess high potential with headroom to grow into the job, covering the 70%. For the 20% focused training, we have invested in a learning platform that provides unlimited access to the entire team to learn and sharpen their skillset required for their specific role, or even additional courses that pique their interest. And finally to cover the coaching aspect, we (as most established companies) inculcate a culture of continuous feedback and mentorship as part of our performance cycles.
Furthermore, after more than a decade after inception, Property Finder has still maintained its startup culture and has steered away from transitioning into a hierarchical organization, like most corporates tend to. Minor practices and processes that fall under the startup culture significantly help boost employee morale and attitude. It’s a domino effect– an open-door policy across all senior management not only allows employees to openly voice their concerns and opinions, but also makes room for fresh and innovative ideas from all tiers of the team. Something as simple as our Thank God Its Thursday (TGIT) gatherings, where the entire leadership team is available to answer any queries, and regular “all-hands” meetings, help drive transparency and trust within a business.
To conclude, I’d like to leave you with a quote by Lao Tzu, my favorite leadership teacher, that has stuck with me through the years: “A leader is someone who people barely know he exists; when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” More than guidance, a manager or mentor has an obligation to lead by example, as a team is an emulation of their leader. They are immensely important in shaping the work ethic and attitude of their teams, and they must demonstrate vital attitudes such as a strong work ethic, being available to their teams, working through streamlining roadblocks, and being vocal about praise. It is crucial for a leader to understand their team and adapt their leadership style, however necessary, to motivate and bring out the best of their team.
Finally, my suggestion to the younger generation looking to prosper into successful leaders would be to first, get the basics right– it is important to be extremely competent at what you do; practice, practice, and eventually perfect your skills. Once that is done, learn to think ahead, and set the agenda for a plan that helps achieve your goals. And finally, mold your personality to learn the tricks of collaboration, humility, influence, and perseverance. Be a people’s person, and lead from the heart.