I think that the way that people think is the single most important distinguishing factor between valuable people and complete disasters. I have never written about this distinction, as it seems a bit opinionated to me and could even be controversial, mostly due to its simplicity. But I cannot deny that this distinction has always worked for my businesses and for those I have taught it to, so here goes.
I believe that there are two types of thinkers in the business world. The first type is contribution thinkers and the second type is entitlement thinkers. As entrepreneurs we can only grow our businesses with the first type, the contribution thinkers. The effects of qualifications, skills, expertise, age, gender, culture, political views, and religious views pale in comparison to the effects of these two types of thinking on a person’s performance in the workplace and/or on an entrepreneurial venture overall.
Contribution thinkers view most situations as an opportunity to make a difference to something or somebody, and their personal energy channels from the inside outwards into the universe, to multiply positively. Entitlement thinkers view most situations as an opportunity to justify their feelings of personal worth and gain, and their energy flows from the outside inwards. In an attempt to contain the energy that they drain from the universe, they smother it.
Entrepreneurial ventures need energy in abundance to flourish, and regular positive and outward-flowing energy is as important to entrepreneurial leaders as oxygen is to their physical well-being.
How do we recognise the difference between these two types of thinkers? For easy reference, these two types of thinkers might display some, if not all, of the traits listed in the following paragraphs. We’ll look at entitlement thinkers first.
- Arrive for work at 8:00 a.m. and leave at 5:00 p.m., less allotted lunch and tea breaks. They take their agreed paid leave and sick leave each year, too, down to the last allotted second. Entrepreneurial partners in this type of thinking mode will consistently be measuring their input/output against their partner’s input/output.
- Often fail to answer business-related emails, or what they might consider business-related emails or calls after 5:00 p.m. or over weekends.
- Blame their mistakes and shortcomings on outside factors beyond their control.
- Transition to “victim” mode so fast in a dispute that adversaries can’t help but admire the skillfulness displayed.
- Make decisions that benefit an individual, often themselves, and often to the detriment of the organisation or greater collective entity.
- Instill and uphold a bureaucratic system where possible and flourish in the upper echelons where underhanded bullying is not an unusual tactic.
- Treat their employment opportunity as their right.
- Often display jealousy towards those they regard as more successful and label them as lucky.
- Are driven to perform a task mostly by fear of what they might lose if they don’t perform it.
- Adhere loosely to office hours when appropriate but work according to performance needs in place of hours stipulated. Often have to be reminded not to carry annual leave over from one year to the next, and when on annual or sick leave, they remain fully available.
- Make suggestions to improve company systems and performance without being asked.
- Make decisions to benefit the collective group over any individual needs, including their own.
- Show the same respect to their leaders as to their followers.
- Respect their employment opportunity as a privilege.
- When things go wrong they look to themselves to find solutions and include others in these solutions where possible.
- Are driven to perform a task by a clearly defined purpose.
We should also be aware that this distinction can, and should, be made with our contractors and suppliers.
The best time to recognise these types of thinkers is before we invite them into our businesses. But we also need to recognise that it is our role as the business leaders to create the right environment to attract and encourage contribution thinkers
In many cases it can actually be the entrepreneur who is not inspiring their people to become contribution thinkers and this links very strongly to how they communicate their purpose.
Can entitlement thinkers become successful entrepreneurs?
Both types of thinkers can reach financial success as entrepreneurs, but the deeper definition of entrepreneurial success requires an environment that can be described by terms such as connection, abundance, contribution, collaboration, and commitment. The entitlement thinkers are more likely to create an environment described by terms such as coercion, demands, control, and scarcity. It doesn’t take a psychologist to guess in which of the two environments, as described above, will be more conducive to entrepreneurial growth.
A parting thought;
“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case”. Ken Kesey