What makes a great leader?

“Leadership, in general, is strongly connected with self-reflection, self-development and the ability to give and receive feedback.”

SSES Alumn and weekend workshopper Vivien Boche joined our workshop “Entrepreneurial Leadership” with Gregg Vanourek last month. Read her takeaways from an inspiring weekend and reflections on what makes a great leader:


Leading startups or other entrepreneurial ventures is not an easy process. It needs the ability to deal with uncertainty as well as recruiting and developing people in a sustainable and effective way. Defining the purpose, values and vision for an organisation and creating a culture of innovation provides guidance in the process of leading a firm. In the weekend workshop “Entrepreneurial Leadership”, we focused on developing the ability to lead innovative ventures like an entrepreneur or intrapreneur.

For me, it was an outstanding valuable experience where I gained a lot of new insights and perspectives about leadership practices. According to the phrase “Learning to lead by leading”, we had a fruitful mix between input sessions and live business cases where we could apply and grow our entrepreneurial skills. We learned tools and practices of how to recruit, lead and reward people effectively as well as how to set purpose, values, vision for organisations or teams. In the following, I want to share my main key takeaways:

  • Entrepreneurial Leadership is an influence relationship
  • Entrepreneurial Leadership is a quest
  • Leadership, in general, is strongly connected with self-reflection, self-development and the ability to give and receive feedback
  • Honest, positive as well as negative and constructive feedback can be one of the most powerful tools
  • Bridging the gap between steel (hard) and velvet (soft) leadership. People tend to be one-side orientated and ignore or have no understanding of the other part which causes problems.
  • Things which are hard to measure are often discounted.Therefore, we need to focus our attention on the velvet soft aspects of leadership.
  • Regulating (by heating up or by cooling down) the temperature of a difficult conversation can unfold tension between people.
  • Defining the purpose, values, vision for organisations or teams creates an essential guide


Another defining takeaway is to realise the importance of finding your personal vision, purpose and values in life. By generating a deeper understanding of these points, you will find out why you are doing what you are doing, what matters to you, how you want to act in problematic situations and what the next bigger step in your life will look like. If you are interested in determining these for you, check out the materials and exercises (www.lifeentrepreneurs.com). I found it really helpful.

Overall, it was an inspiring, intensive and valuable weekend full of tools, frameworks and applied practices which will accompany me in my future decisions.

I want to close with the quote of Maya Angelou: “Nothing will work unless you do.”

Here is Vivien’s original post on LinkedIn