What makes a great CEO? Many are fascinated by the answer to this question because there are so many different qualities and traits required to be a successful CEO. However, there is one quality that really stands out as being a key success factor of a great CEO: their ability to think like an entrepreneur.

The common definition of an entrepreneur is someone who takes an idea and makes money out of it. But, by today’s standards, there are more factors at play. An entrepreneur is someone who has an idea and transforms that idea into an outcome. Yes, a lot of the times that outcome can have a monetary value attached to it, but it doesn’t always have to be the case.

When you look at the CEOs of successful companies, they all view the world through entrepreneurial lenses based on this new definition. They see opportunities and possibilities and determine an appropriate outcome that they want to achieve. If it were so easy to convert an idea into an outcome, then everyone would be doing it, but the challenge lies in overcoming the barriers that exist between the idea and the outcome. Essentially, entrepreneurs use their skills, knowledge, and perspective to smash down these barriers and achieve their outcome. This is called the ‘entrepreneurial mind’, and it refers to how great CEOs, leaders, and entrepreneurs view the world: through a series of ideas, outcomes, and the barriers in between.

Management consultant Peter Drucker coined the term ‘corporate entrepreneurship’ and used it to describe the value-creation process within an existing organisation. There has been a lot of work done in this area over the years, but since the 90s, we’ve heard new, fancy terms spring up like ‘intrapreneur’, ‘solopreneur’, and ‘infopreneuer’. While each term refers to a specific niche and is meant to relate back to the principles and philosophies of entrepreneurship, they appear to dilute and cheapen the original meaning.