Social Entrepreneurship Leaders

Great social entrepreneurship leaders follow many different paths to arrive at their success. Some are self taught, while others come from some of the best university programs for social entrepreneurship.

Today many young MBAs are choosing this path and more business schools are catering to their demand for programs focused on social enterprise. For example, Kellogg School of management at Northwestern University now offers over $80,000 in seed capital to the graduate who launches the best non profit straight out of school. Social entrepreneurs can learn much from traditional business school curriculum as well.

Jimmy Wales talks at WEF [Photo by Robert Scoble] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Potential social entrepreneurs get inspired to act with courage as they are exposed to others who are engaged in social ventures during their college years. The best instructors are able to draw out the potential in each student and inspire them to be social entrepreneurs.

Many well known social entrepreneurs hold MBA degrees, and Yale and Stanford continue to set the standard in the field. Harvard is another great American university that is known for developing leaders in social entrepreneurship. The school holds a number of study groups for interested students that focus on different aspects of social entrepreneurship. For example, this month they held a workshop on using social entrepreneurship to revitalize small cities in the US. Topics discussed include how an interdisciplinary approach that involves arts, new media, management, good government and civic engagement can help tertiary cities overcome the challenges they face today. Students discussed how these cities could work to accentuate their natural advantages and compete as an attractive alternative to larger cities.

Clearly, good university programs can help to develop social entrepreneurship leaders but attending a fancy MBA program is in no way a requirement to succeed as a social entrepreneur. Some would argue that social entrepreneurs share innate characteristics which have little to do with educational level. According to author David Bornstein, who wrote a famous book on social entrepreneurs, they tend to be restless people who have a take charge attitude towards addressing social problems around the globe. As Bornstein notes, these people are also capable of developing highly creative and unique solutions to entrenched social problems.

Another key quality of successful social entrepreneurs is that they are willing to recognize their own mistakes and self correct. They are also willing to share their success with others, creating organizations where all stakeholders share a strong bond and are committed to the success of the project. The job of a great social entrepreneurship leader is never done, no matter how much success they may achieve. The expectation of a leader is that they can perform at a high level on a daily basis, and this is certainly true of social entrepreneurs as well.

Successful leaders gain the admiration and respect of others for their ability to handle this challenging and rewarding role. Leaders tend to share certain qualities in common, including a passionate curiosity and a confidence that comes from experience. They are also savvy team players who take a fearless approach to challenges. Social entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie embodies all of these qualities. He saw that kids needed shoes in Argentina and developed an innovative solution to fill this need.