10 Traits of Successful Intrapreneurs
Intrapreneurs are like an immune system for companies. They detect disruptions and innovations coming from outside that could endanger the organization and react to it. They make companies more resilient.
An intrapreneur is a person within a corporation who takes or is given the freedom and resources to initiate projects, business ventures, and more. They are the ones that behave like entrepreneurs inside a company to create new businesses, products, and services. Intrapreneurs are the very employees that make an organization survive in the long term.
Every company should encourage employees to become intrapreneurs, and/or foster and care for them. But can you tell employees to become more intrapreneurial? Not really, at least, not so easily. And one reason is that not everyone brings the right traits to this job. And talking about job: one rarely sees the job title of intrapreneur in a profile or job posting. Because in the end, as with entrepreneurs, being intrapreneur is not simply a job; it’s a calling.
What are the traits that intrapreneurs have and that distinguish them from mere employees?
Intrapreneurs are self-driven and passionate by the topic that they are pushing. After all, one has to have passion, otherwise one would stop as soon as one hits the first roadblocks. Believing in what they are doing also helps them to overcome critics and skeptics. And if they didn’t have the passion, why would anyone believe in their idea? Passion is a crucial ingredient to make the case and win support.
Intrapreneurs have a keen sense for trends, for identifying those small or sometimes big signals that others would ignore. While others dismiss single incidents of breakthroughs and discoveries that will culminate in major disruptions, intrapreneurs keep a mental or real map of these incidents and start paying attention to them early.
3.Curious and open-minded
They are open to new ideas and keep searching for new input. They make it a habit to meet with people from outside their department, wonder why things are working this way, what could be done differently, and attend a diversity of events outside work.
4.Multi-talented / T-shaped
They often have knowledge and skills in many areas and combine them in their effort. We calls this being T-shaped. While they have deep expertise in one are (the vertical bar in the T) the have broad and less deep knowledge in many other areas (the horizontal bar in the T). This allows intrapreneurs to avoid functional blindness that so often lets people forget to ask the right question or question the right things.
5.Not driven by monetary incentives
They are not doing it because a monetary reward is promised. After all, their salary is more secure if they do what they are being told, right? Why would anyone sane in their mind choose to work extra hours out of their own drive to work on an innovation against all roadblocks that an organization puts up? A bonus is not promised, and a bonus is often not even after a successful intrapreneurship project given. The reward is to make things happen and the world better.
6.Resilient and determined
They don’t give up easily. Intrapreneurs grow stronger with resistance and in some cases take it outside the company to build their own.
7.Resourceful and networked
They know where to find help and get resources. Be it people with the right skill sets or connections, or finding the idle server, urgently needed tool, or budget, intrapreneurs show the value of their network and resourcefulness by using it appropriately.
8.Confident and humble
They are certain that this idea is important but still know it’s a long path. Intrapreneurs show the right balance of confidence and humility. They know that different people have different levels of understanding on a project and adapt. Not being humble would alienate potential help. Being too confident would alienate them as well.
9.Know how to pivot
They adapt not because of somebody tells them to stop, but because of product, service, or customer needs. While intrapreneurs are passionate about their idea, they know that the ultimate goal is to make the world better by helping customers. If they realize that the idea needs a pivot, even a painful one, they will follow through.
They are prepared to take risks and rejection. They risk being called dreamers. They risk of not following management direction and therefore their jobs. But intrapreneurs realize that there is no alternative to standing up and following through with the project.
Those traits show that telling employees to become intrapreneurs is not for everyone. But there will be some employees, who show those traits and whom you can foster and encourage with the right intrapreneurship set up in your company. And you will be surprised to discover who of your employees show intrapreneurial traits and get going.