Intrapreneurs, entrepreneurial spirits who prefer to work for an employer, should be open to risk and masters of persuasion says Chris Mahon Assistant Professor at Nottingham University Business School.
Intrapreneurs are entrepreneurial spirits who prefer to play an active role in helping their employer to innovate and grow rather than run the risks associated with starting their own businesses.
Intrapreneurs love the process of creation. These are the sort of people who wake up in the morning and cannot wait to get to work. If they’re going to be effective, an intrapreneur needs to be naturally proactive and be able to inspire those around them.
There is a tendency to compartmentalise creativity as the domain of the select few, but it’s something that can be learned. At Nottingham, we have developed an “Ingenuity Process” (a way of thinking that encourages creative problem solving) to teach students how to come up with something novel enough to capture everyone’s attention as well as persuading decision makers within a business that it’s a good course of action.
3 A master at the art of persuasion
innovation and change are not always welcome in organisations and a big part of the battle is getting backing for your idea from the right people. That’s why it’s so important to come up with ingenious approaches. If the idea is big enough it will rise above any potential resistance.
Like entrepreneurs running their own businesses, intrapreneurs must have unshakeable self-belief and the stamina to keep going regardless of the challenges. And even a business that nurtures its intrapreneurs is likely to experience office politics. So an intrapreneur also has to be savvy of rivalries or departmental power struggles and take it in their stride if things don’t go according to plan.
5 A team player
You cannot be an intrapreneur without the ability to communicate and connect with others. This means having strong soft skills – being good at working as part of a team and networking. Without these skills, you won’t be able to negotiate with the gatekeepers in the business and win over key decision makers. It can also help to find a senior colleague who is willing to support or mentor you internally.
6 Able to seize the moment
Opportunism is a word that often gets a bad rap. But the willingness to spot opportunities and act on them it is a key trait of an intrapreneur. You need to be opportunistic – boldly sharing ideas and, most importantly, acting on them whenever and wherever they come up.
As an intrapreneur, you have to be willing to fail, learn and start again. It’s a given that not every new idea will be a winner. Intrapreneurs work best in a supportive culture where people are free to innovate and are allowed to occasionally fail, without fear of the consequences. This is an area where being an entrepreneur has its advantages, because a founder-owner can create their own supportive and nurturing culture.