Entrepreneurs are characterized by a strong need for personal achievement. This often leads them to try to do everything themselves. One result is burnout; another may be the alienation of other organization members. CEOs of organizations they must “empower” others if their firms are to be successful. This study examines the power need of entrepreneurial CEOs and how it is directed. In particular we focus on “personalized power”—the use of power to attain entrepreneurs’ personal goals—and “pro-social power” or sharing power to empower others to achieve common goals.

Power directed solely toward personal gain is usually dysfunctional for an organization, while pro-social power is commonly associated with positive outcomes. We assessed the power and achievement needs of CEOs of entrepreneurial firms to test hypotheses about how these needs interact with entrepreneurial orientation (EO) of the organization to affect performance outcomes. For a purposive sample of 29 small, relatively young firms in the information technology field located in the mid-Atlantic region we tested the mediating effect of EO.