The entrepreneur has changed

There are many theories about why there has been a lack of leaders’ breakthrough in the last ten years. One of the reasons that has been researched is that the education system is more interested in exam results than teaching life skills to the young. In olden times, the school system was supposed to develop balanced, rounded young adults ready for life beyond education. In fact, this was the reasoning for the development of sport in Victorian times. The Victorian Public Schools embraced sports as a method for teaching good character and discipline.

However the balance has shifted as league tables were introduced and there is a direct correlation between the advent of league tables and the supposed fall in emerging leaders breaking through. The view is that life skills, and understanding of human nature, of teams and communities are crucial to leadership. The generation at University today is sometimes even referred to as “the Snowflake” generation as they are, in theory, more sensitive and less hardened in life skills. A touch harsh towards the young as there is some exceptional young talent and they view the world through different eyes to previous generations. But there is undoubtedly a change in focus.

The system may not be generating natural leaders but they have arguably created a new raft of social entrepreneurs that want to create change. They are arguably turning to entrepreneurship earlier as they carry higher level of debt that they want to lose and also as they want to play active roles in changing society.

Higher education institutions across the country are seeing more students – young disruptors, innovators and entrepreneurs – impatient to changing the world. Many of them are already armed with the ideas, curiosity, and creativity to solve big problems by the time they graduate. Over the past several years, programs geared specifically toward social innovation and entrepreneurship have grown, mostly driven by student demand and in some cases even developed by students themselves.

In the days of Thatcherism, the idea was that entrepreneurs created wealth and employment. It was a relatively self-focused discipline. Today it is different.

So what exactly is a social entrepreneur? While definitions vary, most social entrepreneurs are simply individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.

The movement is growing all across the globe. More people want more from their job than just a salary, and social entrepreneurship is one way to get there. There have been a number of studies – both with company employees under 35 and with graduates – and often the results state that one of the prime motivators is to create eco and social change.

On this basis, it is fair to argue that: n Entrepreneurs will be the lead change agents in society n Corporates will need to change the way they nurture talent and leadership. Far more work needs to put into place in relation to leadership development n Corporates will need to match entrepreneurs in their care for a world beyond their own organisations. Quality of life and care for the community will be important to attract the best talent.