Co-authored by Susan Foley and Hans Balmaekers, SA.AM

A lot has been said about intrapreneurship lately – the movement to create an environment within your company to unleash the entrepreneurial talent in your organization to boost innovation from within.

While intrapreneurship is a true engine for growth and innovation, it is really not about generating ideas. Crucial is the ability to turn ideas into profitable ventures. That’s the job of your intrapreneurs.

Now, if you are not sure whether your company is home to these corporate innovators, we can assure you, it is.  You might know some of them, but many others you will have never heard of. It’s not the regular high potential or C-level maverick.  They do possess some distinct traits from the usual corporate soldier though.  So next to implementing intrapreneurship, it’s important to start supporting these intrapreneurs.  But first, you’ll have to spot them.

Here are 7 traits of intrapreneurial talent to help you find them:

1. Intrapreneurs feel like they don’t fit.  Their organizations do not understand them or appreciate them for what they do or how they do it.  They see the world through a different lens.  They are independent and independent thinkers.  They think, act and make decisions differently.  They often find themselves sitting on the other side of an issue.

2. Intrapreneurs are in fact a distinct group of individualsThey have a unique combination of competencies that set them apart from more traditional workers.  They are self reliant, like to explore new things, and are totally engaged in their heads and their hearts. They actively seek out new challenges, effectively manage limited resources and are focused on getting things done.

3. Intrapreneurs make significant leaps in thinking that are not always linear or fact based.  They are able to connect the dots. They rapidly test and refine ideas to push them through the decision process to the next stage.  They make sense of uncertain and complex situations more quickly.  They work with what they’ve got, not what they think they need.  They prefer to fail quickly and recoup quickly.

4. Intrapreneurs think differently.  They take a more holistic and systems view of a situation.  Many of them are whole brain thinkers.  They are also integrative thinkers.  They can take two totally opposite concepts and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other they generate a creative solution to form a new idea.  They are both analytical and intuitive. They balance thinking and action.  Intrapreneurs learn from their actions.

5. Intrapreneurs approach decision making differently.  They resist diving into the data too early.  They don’t try to simplify things too quickly.  They linger in complexity because it presents more options.  They will change direction or even shut a project down when new data becomes available.  They effectively balance the short term and long term demands. They do not wait for everything to be perfect before they are willing to make decisions. Intrapreneurs are decisive.

6.Intrapreneurs have different motivations and aspirations than others. They like to build things. They are energized by the excitement of building something, anything that moves their company forward.  They are self motivated and good at motivating others. They want to work on the big stuff – the bigger the more challenging the better. They like to work with a clean sheet of paper.  It gives them more freedom to be creative. They are not interested in a traditional career path.  Intrapreneurs are restless and easily bored.

7. Intrapreneurial action is how Intrapreneurs operate.  They are not always the ones that come up with the ideas but they take the ideas and turn them into viable businesses. They find iterative planning more useful because things are continually changing. They embrace surprises because it provides greater opportunity to refine their thinking. They take calculated risks by looking at the upside and downside of a decision. They deal with uncertainty by acting on it not sitting back and waiting to see what happens.  Intrapreneurs create the future through their actions.

These are only a few of the things that will help you spot Intrapreneurial talent – intrapreneurs are so much more.  Identifying and developing your Intrapreneurs is the best way to start moving your organization forward into the future.


(Co-Author Profile: Hans Balmaekers is the Founder and Director of, a resource for young professionals who care about their future, want to make a difference, and want to develop the mindset and skills to become change-makers. This month, is launching an online intrapreneurship course to prepare aspiring and new intrapreneurs for success. Connect with Hans on Twitter, or on LinkedIn.)


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