The 3 Traps of Entrepreneurial Leaders

Recently in a CEO meeting we discussed what made for a successful entrepreneur and a strong leader. There were so many adjectives, skillsets, and strengths that made for strong leadership. But even when those were present, they didn’t always translate into a successful entrepreneur. So, we came up with the 3 traps of entrepreneurial leaders.

The good news is that we also brainstormed the 3 tips to help you resist those traps successfully. That’s right, 3 traps and 3 tips. So, dust off your CliftonStrengths report because I’m also going to show you how your strengths are tempted by these traps and how they’re also the best tools to help you resist those same temptations.

Pleasure vs. Productivity with Integrity

Pleasure in and of itself is not bad. However, if we’re only focused on our own pleasure, then what happens is that we lose productivity. All our focus is on the feeling side, the pleasure side, the exultation and sensation of our flesh.

If we tie this with a specific CliftonStrengths talent like Positivity, you can see that when it is in its raw state it’s only focused on, “Hey, how can I laugh? How can I have fun? How can I make myself feel good?” That is the temptation – the trap that keeps you in that raw form of that strength.

We want that strength to be refined. One of the definitions of a refined strength is that it is productive. So, that’s the first temptation. And the first tip is to find that integrity of being productive.

Possessions vs. Generosity

The second temptation is really about possessions. It’s about money. It’s about things. If our only focus is to make more money, to get bigger houses, if we think our security and our life is in the money, then that becomes a trap.

Money is not bad at all. It is a tool. However, if the focus is on spending money, acquiring things for self, then it’s a trap.

So, the antidote to this obsession with possessions is to be generous. Ask yourself, “How can I take this wealth I’ve acquired and give it back to family, to friends, to those in the community, to the world?” And if it’s not money directly, be generous with your time and talents. Often those can be far better and longer lasting gifts.

If you find yourself living in a world of possessions, your goal should be to turn up your generosity.

Pride vs. Humility

The third temptation is pride in life. The feeling that if you have status that it makes you better than other people.  You put yourself above them. You compare where you are in relation to others, simply so you can ensure your status is higher. If there’s a sense of judgmentalism, then this is a trap for entrepreneurial leaders.

I will say that status is one of my temptations. In my top 5 strengths I have both Achiever and Competition. Both of those strengths make me want to work harder than other people. It wants to win. When those are raw, it can be very selfish. It’s about me winning. It’s about me being better than other people.

How do we combat that pride in life? With humility. I love what Rick Warren said. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others.”

Humility is knowing what your strengths are, and knowing what your weaknesses are, and your willingness to share your strengths as well as your weaknesses.


Think about how your strengths can give you resistance to these traps. A raw strength is uninformed. It is inexperienced, it is self-oriented, and it’s unproductive. But when your strengths are refined, they’re mature. There is wisdom, there’s information and knowledge.

There is work you can do to refine your strengths in all four domains: Executing, Strategic, Influencing,   and Relationship Building. So, you have learned skills and you can practice being more others-oriented and productive.

So how clear are you on what your strengths are and what your weaknesses are? How vulnerable are you?

If you have more questions, or if you want help exploring how you can refine your strengths, click the image below and download your copy of my Entrepreneur and Coaching Solutions Toolkit.

Link to access the Entrepreneur & Coaching Solutions Toolkit

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