Intrapreneurs are individuals who act as entrepreneurs within the framework of the organization they work for, but not own. The main difference between entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs is the fact intrapreneurs innovate, create new business, and transform companies that aren’t their own. 

Intrapreneurs combine risk-taking, creativity, and a strong initiative to innovate and transform an idea into profit that helps meet the organizational goals of the company. 

CEO’s know that the lack of ideas is not an issue. There are fantastic ideas everywhere. The real challenge is selecting the best ideas, testing those ideas quickly, and executing them flawlessly. The most critical corporate innovators within your company are your intrapreneurs.  

Bad Leadership Discourages Intrapreneurs

Do you know what 70% of successful entrepreneurs have in common? All of them incubated their business ideas while working for someone else. Most innovative people start their own companies so that they would stop working for others. The main reason for this, according to the Harvard Business Review, is lousy leadership. In fact, Gallup reports that most employees are unhappy with their workplace – and the main reason for their dissatisfaction is their unbearable boss. 

There is no upside to incompetent management at a company level. However, from a different point of view, lousy management stimulates entrepreneurship. If the employees were happy at work, they would never start a business. Instead, they would contribute to the growth of the organization which encouraged their ideas and appreciated their innovative actions. Lousy leaders are a significant source of entrepreneurship. In fact, incompetent leaders are the main reason America sees its recent growth and technology innovation. 

How to Recognize the Intrapreneurs in Your Company

Smart people leave companies to start their business ventures, and the only way to stop all those innovative minds from leaving your organization is to recognize them and encourage their ideas. 

To help you with this, Harvard Business Review features research results in which they reveal six patterns of successful intrapreneurs:

 Strategic thinking

Intrapreneurs don’t dwell on the past. In, fact, they don’t even dwell on the present. They are always one step ahead of everyone, thinking about what’s next. They are consistent in their work, highly engaged and they are always hungry for learning. 

Money isn’t their primary motivation

Money is not the starting point for intrapreneurs. Their primary motivation is influence with freedom. 

Intrapreneurs “greenhouse” their ideas

Innovative minds contemplate an idea for a long time before they share it. They will think about it for days, between meetings, on breaks, between calls. The more they think about it, the clearer the idea gets. They are aware of the fact others might not fully understand the potential of this idea and dismiss it, so they make sure to protect it until it’s time to share.

 Visual thinking

Intrapreneurs tend to visualize a series of various solutions. Visual thinking refers to a combination of design thinking, brainstorming, and mind mapping. They make their decisions only after carefully analyzing each detail. 

They aren’t afraid to pivot

Making a significant shift from a current strategic decision to another is called pivoting. Intrapreneurs aren’t scared to try something completely different, and that often turns out to be the only thing to save a dying company. 

They are authentic, and they never lack integrity

All intrapreneurs studied in the research demonstrate confidence followed by humility, as well as self-awareness and a strong sense of purpose. 

Every company has its intrapreneurs, so you already have at least a couple of them in your organization. Some of them you might already be aware of, but rest assured many of them are hiding. You see, these incredible individuals that innovate businesses are not always the loudest people in your organization, they aren’t even your top recognized talent. However, they are unique, and once you appreciate them and support their activities, magic will happen!

Question to reflect: are you making the most from the intrapreneurs in your company?

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