14 Bad Habits of Entrepreneurial Leaders | Business Navigate
14 bad habits of entrepreneurial leaders

14 Bad Habits of Entrepreneurial Leaders

Life can be pretty challenging for small businesses and entrepreneurial leaders – startup ventures or starting a business can be a tough gig. It is easy to fall into bad habits that will undermine all the time, dedication and energy from you and your co-founders.

It isn’t just about :

  • developing the product or service, or
  • about marketing it to the right audience, or
  • getting buy-in from investors, or
  • managing the day-to-day operations of the business and
  • taking advantage of opportunities in the business world,

It’s also about being a transformational leader. To inspire your team which usually consists of a diverse group of people to be the best version of themselves.

Above anything else, It’s about your leadership style. It’s about leading yourself and your team to set and achieve goals for the benefit of the project or business venture.

Some common entrepreneurial leadership styles

It is hard to balance the needs of your team and organisation while also staying true to your beliefs and goals. And many times, bad habits can get in the way of even the most successful people.

A lot of people think that successful entrepreneurs are born, not made. That there is some sort of “entrepreneur style” all entrepreneurial leaders use. But the truth is, there are many leadership approaches and anyone can learn to be entrepreneurial leaders – and you can learn leadership skills to!

So, how do you learn to become an entrepreneurial leader?

Well, definitely not by following a set of rules or set goals. There is no “right way.” Every successful entrepreneur has their own story and approach to leadership, including the bad habits they had to overcome.

In our introduction to entrepreneurship course we delve into this leadership question in some detail.

But in the meantime in this blog post we’ll review 14 bad habits of entrepreneurial leaders, and then we will take a look at 10 entrepreneurial leadership styles that some of the most successful entrepreneurs use.

The 14 the worst bad habits that hold you back

Here are 14 of the worst bad habits even successful entrepreneurial leaders can suffer from. These should be avoided if you want to be effective at what you do.

These bad habits will hold you back from reaching your full potential as entrepreneurial leaders, hindering your ability to motivate others or innovate on behalf of the company you’re running.

1. Following rules too closely without ever questioning them

It’s a common misconception that entrepreneurs break all the rules and go against what has been done before.

Most entrepreneurs actually respect history and rules, but they will question them and constantly think about how those rules can be tweaked or improved.

If you’re good at following rules and never question them then chances are your creativity is being suppressed because you don’t allow yourself to think outside of what has been established as “the norm”.

Sometimes we have to think outside the box. It’s important for entrepreneurs to always find new ways of doing things so they can innovate and stay ahead in their industry.

2. Procrastination

If you’re entrepreneurial leaders, you need to understand that taking opportunities when they arise is crucial. However, everyone procrastinates at some point in their life – it’s how you deal with it that matters.

Entrepreneurs need to know when to start something and how long they’ll give themselves to complete the task to be on time with their work, and then get out of their own way and just do it!

3. Not taking action

Entrepreneurship is like the 80/20 rule. You want 20% of your efforts to give your 80% results. You can have all the greatest ideas, but if you don’t have the motivation to take action then your ideas are useless.

Not everything will work out in your favour, but it’s important to be prepared for anything and always try before say never!

People used to believe that it was impossible to run a mile (1609 mtr) in under 4 minutes. In 1954 Roger Bannister proved them wrong (he ran it in 3:59.4) and since then almost 1500 people have achieved this same feat.[1]

4. Overthinking and self-pity

Overthinking means to think through your failures instead of trying to understand them. You can’t allow yourself to wallow in self-pity for too long because that just means you’re not moving forward.

Entrepreneurs have to take their defeats and turn them into lessons so they can learn from their mistakes and be better the next time!

5. Not thinking BIG

This means thinking on a BIG scale. Success doesn’t come from small opportunities – it comes from thinking bigger and taking measured risks to achieve your goals.

If you’re always too afraid to move forward or take chances, then you’ll never be able to make your dreams come true.

6. Not being creative

Your creativity is going to affect the success of your business! If you don’t have a creative mindset, then no one will be interested in what you’re selling.

This means thinking outside the box and going beyond your comfort zone. It’s all about being innovative and bringing something new to the table.

7. Being a perfectionist

Sometimes there is a fine line between being a perfectionist and just not going through with something because it “isn’t good enough”.

Entrepreneurs are supposed to take action! If you don’t have that fire within you then no one is going to buy or invest in what you’re selling.

There’s a great saying, something along the lines of “Perfection is the enemy of Done”.

8. Constantly needing approval

Entrepreneurial leaders aren’t just top dog when it comes to business, they’re also top dog when it comes to their confidence.

Being entrepreneurial leaders means taking responsibility for what you do and knowing how to take care of yourself. You have to be willing to make the first step, even if no one follows!

9. Assuming everything is about you

You can’t listen when you’re too concerned with yourself. If you think every conversation is about how much better or worse than you somebody else does something, then nobody’s going to want to work for you.

Your team knows your ins and outs, including what pushes your buttons, so let that keep you humble.

10. Micromanaging your team

You can’t be entrepreneurial leaders when you’re always behind someone’s shoulder asking why they did something a certain way or how much time it will take them to finish a task.

Nobody wants their actions supervised that closely and nobody wants to be told how long to work on something either. Keep an eye on your team but give them the space they need to excel, to be the best they can possibly be.

11. Not accepting responsibility

It’s easy to blame someone else for something that went wrong, but it’s better to take the time to figure out how it happened so you can prevent another mishap from occurring in the future.

When people see you accept responsibility, they’ll trust you more and be more open with you.

12. Thinking you’re always right

You can’t be entrepreneurial leaders when you think that everything related to you or your business is right, all the time. No matter how good of a job you do, there will always be something wrong somewhere.

Look for it and work on making your company better because nobody else will if you don’t.

13. Talking, but not listening

You can’t lead when you’re just talking about your newest idea or how to solve a problem instead of actually listening to what other people have to say on the subject.

Other people may have great suggestions, so open up your ears and hear them out. There is a reason why we have two ears and one mouth – use them in this proportion.

14. Not setting clear expectations

You can’t be entrepreneurial leaders when you’re unclear about what’s expected of your team and organisation member.

It doesn’t matter if it’s ill-defined processes, unclear project or task completion timetables, or inconsistent company culture. Not setting clear expectations will only confuse the people around you and cause problems for them in the future.

The most successful types of leadership styles

Here are some of the most successful types of entrepreneurial leader styles, what type of leader style do you have:

  1. The Creator. The Creator sees life as an adventure and as an opportunity to innovate and seek improvements
  2. The Leader. The Leader sets high standards of performance, both for themselves and their team
  3. The Enabler. The Enabler gives a lot of freedom to their team members in terms of how they set deadlines and do their work
  4. The Architect. The Architect is the go-to person when problems arise and likes nothing better than to problem solve
  5. The Pioneer. The Pioneer knows that life is all about taking leaps of faith and uses passion and resilience to steer the ship
  6. The Transformer. The Transformer uses a shared vision of the future and uses effective communication to achieve buy-in
  7. The General. The General take complete power to decide and make decisions without consulting their teams
  8. The Conqueror. The Conqueror is ambitious and uses excellent communication skills to lead their team
  9. The Taskmaster. The Taskmaster brings everyone together to set the tasks, and uses reward and punishment to control the outcome
  10. The Counsellor. The Counsellor values inputs from the team members but the final decisions are made by the leader


The good news is that you’re not doomed to these bad habits. You can always try to work on eliminating them one at a time until your entrepreneurial leader style has become stronger, more calculated, and better respected by those around you.

Entrepreneurial leaders can find it challenging at the best of times due to leadership complexity and building team synergy, however, if you’re willing to put in the work necessary then there are many rewards along the journey.

As with any leadership style, entrepreneurship’s success depends on utilising a combination of skills and knowledge so that you can identify and seize opportunities.

Learning about the different styles of leadership such as transformational leadership, participative leadership and improving your decision making process can help you along the way.

There is no set path but rather an endless number of possibilities along the way.


[1]          Wikipedia, Four-minute mile, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four-minute_mile

Further reading

Is passion for business essential

What is a main reason why entrepreneurs experience daily stress

Introduction to entrepreneurship – Discover your Inner Entrepreneur

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