- January 31, 2018
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Management, Productivity
A friend once told me he thought the people who were troublemakers were the ones who made the best entrepreneurs. They were the ones who got in trouble because when they saw problems, they found ways around them, or they challenged the authority figures, rather than toeing the line and accepting the status quo.
These people became entrepreneurs because they were always looking for solutions to problems and ways to fix a broken status quo. They weren’t shy about identifying problem areas and suggesting ways to fix it. These personality types continued to identify and fix problems, only they found a way to make money at it.
Of course, not everyone can be an entrepreneur. Not everyone has the resources, patience, or skill to run their own business and do their work, plus meet with customers, plus balance their books, plus deal with regulatory issues, and so on.
But these (hopefully former!) troublemakers can be great intrapreneurs. These are the people who have the entrepreneur’s attributes, drive, enthusiasm, and mindset, but they work in a business setting.
Peter Drucker, the author of In Search Of Excellence, said there were 10 rules to being a successful intrapreneur. One of them was coming to work every day expecting to be fired.
The theory behind that was that if you do, it means you won’t be afraid to speak your mind and debate your point, and not be subjugated by some idiot who is expecting the office to make the person.
I think of this personality type as hunters: an entrepreneur wakes up every morning with the expectation of killing something because they have to eat. Their family’s well-being is contingent upon getting clients, doing the work, and getting paid.
An intrapreneur wakes up every morning with the same instinct of having to kill something so they can eat, but in reality, they have a bit of a cushion in place. It won’t dull that instinct, but if their managers are smart, they’ll harness it.
How Do You Cultivate Intrapreneurs?
First of all, I don’t think you can create intrapreneurs. They are self-created, and that started many years ago, when they were getting in trouble at school, arguing with their teachers and principals.
But you can find these people in your business. They’re the ones who are offering ideas that can save the company money, or they’re finding new product ideas, or shortcuts for getting things done, or peppering you with a million suggestions about how they can help the company be better.
Or these are the people with a “side hustle,” something they do on the side that captivates their interest and gets them out of bed in the morning. They’re the ones with a burning desire to do more than just clock in at 8:00 and clock out at 5:00.
Get these people into leadership positions, whether it’s a promotion or even just running a committee or special project. Give them an opportunity to fail and then fix it. If they can do that, you have an intrapreneur on your hands, and you need to give them more opportunities to learn and grow within your system. If you can get them working to develop their own skills, they’ll end up helping the company along the way. Their work and their entrepreneurial spirit will find new efficiencies, new profit areas, and new ideas that can help your company grow.
So don’t shut them off like their teachers did. Encourage them, train them, and stand back and give them room to work. I think you’ll like what they can accomplish.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Startup Stock Photos (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)