Seda Akin, Senior Event Producer

I am pleased to share with you all our exclusive interview with Susan Foley, Managing Partner of Corporate Entrepreneurs LLC, a firm based in the US that helps organizations develop corporate entrepreneurship (Intrapreneurship) as a core competency to accelerate new business growth.

Susan will be speaking at the WIL Economic Forum China on September 27th about “Changing Face of ‘Intrapreneurship’”.

1. What is your personal leadership style and philosophy of success?

My personal leadership style is to ‘lead by following’. Empowering workers to take responsibility and accountability for making things happen. As they stretch and grow, they push themselves beyond their comfort zone, developing their own leadership skills and sharpening mine.

My philosophy of success is that it is as much an ‘attitude as it is a capability’. A ‘can do’ attitude can take an individual or team further than they could have even imagined.

2. What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

Integrity –the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Leaders with integrity can be trusted because they never veer from inner values, even when it might be expeditious to do so. “A leader must have the trust of followers and therefore must have integrity.”

3. In your book “Entrepreneurs Inside: Accelerating Business Growth with Corporate Entrepreneurs you look at innovation through the eyes of the individuals leading these initiatives – corporate entrepreneurs. Can you elaborate on why being an entrepreneur in the corporate world is important?

The business world is facing unprecedented complexity, ambiguity and uncertainty. Traditional management processes and practices were designed to deal with a more stable environment. Navigating this new environment takes a different mindset and different way of operating. The rapid pace of change is impacting an organizations ability to deal effectively with this new environment. Entrepreneurs are pioneers, builders and change agents. They are effective at navigating uncertainty, embracing complexity and dealing with ambiguous situations. They are energized and excited by the challenge of finding new and different ways to do something. They don’t let barriers and obstacles get in their way. They find creative ways to deal with new situations that the organization has not had to deal with before. They create new ways of operating by leveraging the resources that are available. They are willing to do what it takes. Win or lose they learn from the experience and move the company forward.

4. What are the 3 main obstacles and hidden barriers that stifle innovation?

1) Role Models – there is a lack of entrepreneurial role models at the top of most organizations
2) Mental Models – reliance on old mental models that worked in the past but may not now
3) Resistance to Change – innovation is all about change and individuals fear and resist change

5. Is there a distinction between traditional and intrapreneurial leaders? If yes, what are they?

The research shows that there are key differences in the way traditional and Intrapreneurial leaders approach situations, think, take action, make decisions, motivate, inspire and lead people. The key distinction is that Intrapreneurial leaders can operate in the core business at the same time they are building a new business. It is this ability to co-exist in both these worlds at the same time that sets the Intrapreneurial leader apart from others.

You can also follow our other interviews at Facebook or LinkedIn or WIL Forum in China





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