Growing a global entrepreneurial ecosystem means seizing every opportunity to share what you’ve learned with those around you.
As part of the Empowering Entrepreneurship Initiative, we had a virtual fireside chat with the participants of the COVID-19 Relief Program in Indonesia. The chat features insights enpact’s Managing Director and Co-Founder, Matthias Treutwein, who shared his experience about leading a team through times of crisis.
After the session, we realized that the discussion was applicable not just to the attendees, but could be helpful to entrepreneurs around the world currently coping with the transition into a new reality of business, management, and life in general. So, we decided to publish the chat.
1. Hi Matthias, what inspired you to start enpact and stay in the business regarding the challenges ahead?
My background is in international non-profit organizations with a focus on development cooperation and cultural management, which allowed me to work abroad for some years. But, I always had the feeling that the designed activities are not actually reaching the intended target group.
In 2013, Sebastian and I met during the implementation of a mentoring project. There we realized, what a powerful tool entrepreneurship and mentoring can be and decided to start our own social enterprise.
Ever since, I am trying to build a network of inspiring and engaged people, empower them to create sustainable and fair jobs and to improve in general the way international development aid is implemented by focussing more on changemakers – and not the agencies.
From that moment, constant change has been the only constant we had. And this is, what makes it so thrilling, exciting, sometimes frustrating, but always enriching – especially on a personal level. This entails that my own role is constantly changing and that is what inspires me to face and tackle all hurdles. It has been a rough ride at times, though.
2. How do you maintain and build the team solidity and commitment to get things done, aside from raising salary or benefits?
One of the key things that I have learned over the years, is that it is important to jointly develop values – and then live up to them. If this is done well, you are creating a company culture, which then is the basis for team solidity and commitment.
On the way, aim to really focus on providing the following things: a larger purpose and the “why” you are doing what you are doing, the possibility for personal growth objectives as well as social interactions that can come in many different formal and informal formats, like team dinners. brown bag sessions during lunch time, Karaoke singing on Fridays, team retreats, etc.
Also, as hard as this can get at times, always stay open-minded to hear feedback from your employees because everyone wants to be heard!
3. What is the biggest take-away from your experience of running enpact so far?
Dream big, dare to oversell, do not take “no” for an answer and be ready to knock your hands bloody, until finally a door opens. Also, remain humble, accept that there are many things you really are not good at, and maintain an opened-minded willingness to learn. Most importantly: Surround yourself with people who are better than you!
4. Hi Matthias, we have some participants who also run non-profit organizations just like enpact. Do you think there is a special resilience/ leadership skill to run this kind of organization/business/institution?
You probably have to be even more hard-headed and impact driven than your for-profit counterparts. At the same time, the key areas for any manager to excel at remain the same, regardless of the sector.
According to a research published in the International Journal of health Policy and Management, the resilience of organizations is influenced by governance, leadership practices, organizational culture, human capital, social networks, collaboration, planning and information management.
The critical part for non-profit organizations as a mission is the purpose of your organization’s existence. The leadership principles remain the same, but the leadership styles must be aligned to the organizational needs. Hence, it is crucial to refer back to your organization’s mission for the sustainability of your organization. You could formulate a resilient approach per organization’s mission by either utilizing internal resources or employing third party consultants.