Entrepreneurship and Leadership

Last week, I was at Xavier Institute of Management & Entrepreneurship (XIME) in Bangalore and Chennai. It was inspiring to meet Prof. J Philip, founder and President of XIME, former Dean of XLRI Xavier School of Management and ex-Director of Indian Institute of Management Bangalore.  He shared his story of why and how he became an entrepreneur. As a fulfillment of his late daughter Maria Teresa Philip’s dream, Prof. Philip founded XIME in June 1991. From the humble beginnings, XIME is now in the top 1% of business schools in the country.

I was invited to run workshops for students and faculty on entrepreneurship and leadership. I also gave a guest lecture on the trends shaping careers in the 21st century and taught a class on leadership.  Here is a summary on some of the key topics we discussed:

  1. How to develop entrepreneurship education?
  2. What makes a great leader?
  3. What practical advice would I give to students?

How to develop entrepreneurship education?

Many business schools claim to have entrepreneurship education. What really differentiates top institutions is their ability to nurture entrepreneurs through:

  • Shaping Mindset – rather than having a fixed mindset, believing that students can learn entrepreneurial skills and mindsets. Resilience, confidence, commercial acumen, creativity, collaboration and curiosity should be part of the culture of the organisation. This would enable students to build a growth mindset. To emphasis on job creation rather than just applying for jobs. To value experimentation and learning from failures. It should be about continuous learning and being able to adapt to new environments.
  • Providing Practical Experience – through entrepreneurship summer school, hackathons, student consulting projects, conferences and company visits, students can get first-hand experience of being an entrepreneur. An active student entrepreneurship club is important where students organise talks and workshops to learn from thought leaders and experts. Where they can participate in business plan competitions and learn to turn ideas into reality.
  • Activating the Ecosystem – links with startups, VCs, corporates and academics can help students on their entrepreneurial journey. Not just local links but international links connecting up the major startup cities like Silicon Valley, London, New York, Berlin, Tel Aviv and Bangalore. Link with organisations like Startup Leadership Program that has a presence in 23 cities around the world and over 2500 startup CEOs would also help in building bridges with the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • Incubating Ideas – of students and alumni by providing access to space, mentorship and community. An Innovation Lab where research on entrepreneurship is carried out, case studies on successful entrepreneurs are shared and awards are given to entrepreneurs.


What makes a great leader?

When I asked students about what makes a great leader, most of them came up with personal greatness characteristics such as confidence, integrity, communication skills, resilience, determination, perseverance. They mentioned leaders have a vision, take risks, are empathetic and inspire others. I believe that great leaders create other leaders. They empower their followers to use their talents and skills to achieve goals.

There are three distinct factors that make a great leader:

  1. Personal greatness: confidence, assertive, resilience, listening skills, creativity, curiosity, commitment and drive.
  2. Engagement of others: communicating and managing a team, managing stakeholders, influencing others, enrolling others in the vision, aligning the team, being empathetic and serving others.
  3. Business, strategic and financial acumen:  understanding the context, structure, finances, processes and people; awareness of strategic goals and the trends shaping the industry.


Great leaders come in all shapes and sizes. They have the qualities and skills mentioned above. They have a vision and know how to lead their organisation into the future by creating other leaders.

Finally some practical advice for students – LEAP!
Let go of fears. Take risk. Stretch beyond your comfort zone.
Enthusiasm to learn triumphs innate talent. Have a positive can-do attitude.
Authentic behaviour. Be yourself. Act with integrity.
Passion and purpose. Follow your dreams. Leave a legacy.

August 31, 2017

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