Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurs in Closely-Held Enterprises–VIII. The Participating Entrepreneur

Theory E²: Working with Entrepreneurs in Closely-Held Enterprises–VIII. The Participating Entrepreneur

William Bergquist

The fourth entrepreneurial style has recently been given considerable attention. The participating decision-making entrepreneur works with groups of people to engage and enhance all forms of executive functioning that are inherent (and often undiscovered) in these groups. The participating entrepreneur provides the ground for a closely-held enterprise. She anchors the inspiring executive’s vision, as well as providing a balance between the decisive actions of an assertive executive and the caution of a thoughtful executive.

Whereas the assertive entrepreneur consumes resources and the thoughtful entrepreneur conserves resources, the participating entrepreneur expands the use of existing resources. While the inspiring entrepreneur tends to recruit resources from outside the closely-held enterprise or grows new resources inside the closely-held enterprise, the participating entrepreneur draws attention to unacknowledged ideas and competencies in the organization. She appreciates that which already exists and encourages use rather than conservation of existing resources.

The participating entrepreneur takes great joy in discovering, uncovering and enhancing the hidden talents of people in an organization. She believes that an organization will find all the resources it needs if it will only make a solid commitment to its employees. As Heifetz suggests, the participating executive goes against the grain:

Rather than fulfilling the expectations for answers, [the participating executive] provides questions; rather than protecting people from outside threat, one lets people feel the threat in order to stimulate adaptation; instead of orienting people to their current roles, [the participating executive] disorients people so that new role relationships develop; rather than quelling conflict, one generates it; instead of maintaining norms, one challenges them.


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About the Author

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William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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