May 25, 2012

Educating Leaders and Entrepreneurs, Not "Followers"

Terms like leader and entrepreneur are used so frequently we often lose sight of their full and intended meaning. By “leader” we mean the individual who directs a group or organization of some kind but Samuel Johnson’s seemingly simpler definition in A Dictionary of the English Language captures the essence of what is required of a leader more fully in defining it as, “one who goes first.”

The same goes for the term “entrepreneur.” By it we mean the person who takes on the risks in a new business, but when we review French economist Jean Baptiste Say’s use of the term as, “an adventurer, one who undertakes,” we get a greater sense of what is entailed in moving resources from less to more productive uses.

The differences in definition may seem subtle but their impact is profound. In the chronicles of economic history, those who decided to “go first” or to take on a new venture had to exercise a determination to succeed and willingness to sacrifice that few others did or were capable of doing. As we often tend to say, if being a leader and entrepreneur was easy, everyone would be one.

At Northwood University we know otherwise. By concentrating on topics like product development, business enterprise models, and qualitative and quantitative analysis, our in-class learning opportunities system wide equip our students with the knowledge they need to lead corporations and business across the industry spectrum. Our in-the-field offerings worldwide provide students with first-hand industry specific experience in areas such as manufacturing, distribution, pricing, and facilities management. And our athletic programs and student organizations provide students the chance to grow and learn in the areas of communication, planning, execution, and cooperation while serving team, community, state, and global endeavors.

Finally, we educate leaders and entrepreneurs who understand where and how everyone in an enterprise best fits in. Our graduates know, for example, all leaders are not entrepreneurs capable of launching new businesses and all entrepreneurs are not positioned to manage various elements of day-to-day operations. They are taught that many leaders and entrepreneurs must also be followers but not in the negative sense. Rather, they must lead from within their specific roles and duties and serve as leaders and examples to their colleagues and anyone they may oversee while working with other leaders and entrepreneurs who are at the helm.

As our 41,000-plus active alumni around the world can attest, businesses succeed when the guidance and vision of leaders and entrepreneurs emerge. This is what sets Northwood University apart: in the classroom and in industry; on the field and court; on all of our campuses around the world. We educate students who know how and when to “go first,” how and when to undertake new ventures; leaders and entrepreneurs who are changing the world one person, one business, and one industry at a time.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Keith

Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640
989.837.4203

pretty@northwood.edu