Leadership Lessons for Entrepreneurs from Jethro (Moses’ Father-in-Law)

I was in synagogue last weekend for a cousin's bat mitzvah and was struck by the entrepreneurial lessons from the weekly Torah portion.  The portion was Exodus 18, where Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, sits down with him and gives him some mentorship:

What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening…The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.

Moses is the ultimate entrepereneur, trying to do it all himself.  He leads the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt (nice vision!) and then is forced to execute on creating a new society and way of life for his people.  It's too much for one person to bear.  

So like any good mentor, Jethro gives it to him straight – you are going to burn out.  You need to delegate.  Find some good people you trust and let them deal with the minor issues.  Focus your energy on finding the right people, put them in a position to succeed and then save yourself for the really big decisions.

Pretty good advice for an entrepreneur.

7 thoughts on “Leadership Lessons for Entrepreneurs from Jethro (Moses’ Father-in-Law)

  1. I think there’s a lot of truth to what you’re saying here. I saw another lesson in this same passage (from the Netziv).
    Jethro tells Moshe that the way he is teaching Torah is too abstract. He has to “make them understand the way to adapt it (the Torah)” into their lives. The depths and intricacies obvious to Moses, needed to be articulated in a way that people can grab onto and use practically.
    Entrepreneurs sometimes lose sight of the fact that investors and employees may not be immersed in the details and features of their new product. They need to articulate both the big picture and practical instruction in a palatable way that inspires and provides clarity on how to act.

    Like

  2. Loved the post… I tend to try to correlate Torah portions to Entrepreneurship – probably mostly as a way to stay engaged during the service. My wife isn’t a big fan of this approach 🙂

    Like

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