Proactive Influence and the Founding of Endeavor

Linda Rottenberg, founder and CEO of Endeavor, is known as “La Chica Loca” in many parts of South America and the Middle East. In founding Endeavor, Rottenberg was pitching what was then a revolutionary idea: supporting entrepreneurs in emerging markets. Most people doubted that such entrepreneurs even existed, but after spending time in Latin America Rottenberg knew that the talent existed, and that these aspiring entrepreneurs merely needed the resources to encourage their success.

In Chapter 5 of Jay Conger and Ronald Riggio’s The Practice of Leadership: Developing the Next Generation of Leaders, the authors outline the means with which leaders can convince others to follow them. Dubbed “proactive influence,” Conger and Riggio list rational persuasion, inspirational appeals, consultation, and collaboration as key tools for any leader.

When reflecting on the start of Endeavor, it is clear that Rottenberg utilized all of these techniques to convince others to support her revolutionary, “loca” idea.

Rationally, Endeavor made sense. Rottenberg was able to show that this talent existed, and the model made sense in terms of sustainability as well as financially. In terms of inspirational appeals, Rottenberg realized that many professionals were looking for more out of their work. This was an amazing opportunity for talented individuals to change the world for the better without sacrificing a challenging, business-oriented environment.

As Endeavor became more than just the dream of “La Chica Loca,” Rottenberg allowed the founding members to have significant input. From what I have gathered, many of Endeavor’s trademarks – everything from the term “high-impact” to “entrepreneurial ecosystem” are the creation of Rottenberg and her initial team. By allowing people to have a say, Rottenberg allowed them to have more of a stake in Endeavor. This is also reflected in the way regional offices are run; although these offices have to report to Endeavor Global here in New York, they are allowed a significant degree of independence. Each regional office has its own manager, and is run as this manager sees fit. This allows for the office to create its own culture, and again allows employees to have more of a stake in the company. It is very important for leaders to make their employees feel valued and like they have a say in what goes on.

Finally, collaboration is key. Although Rottenberg was one of two co-founders of Endeavor, the operation is very much dependent on the collaboration of a wide variety of leaders and stakeholders, and without this collaboration Endeavor would not be where it is today.

Rottenberg exhibits many of the “best practices” of leadership as defined by Conger and Riggio. As the leader of Endeavor, she exudes a “proactive influence” in a way that makes people want to follow her lead.

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