There’s something going on in the world of business – and this time, it’s positive.

Social intrapreneurs have redefined what it takes to develop innovations that have a social or environmental impact.  They’ve taught us what it takes to create social value while making money.  They’ve shown us how one person can make a difference; how a group of individuals can create something that has lasting value for society and the organization.

The social intrapreneur has emerged as a new type of leader.

Social intrapreneurs are a different breed of leaders compared to regular executives.  It is not an official position and so you will find social intrapreneurs in all realms, functions and levels of an organization: corporate responsibility, sustainability, innovation, business management or staff functions. It’s the beliefs and aspirations that unite this highly diverse group of leaders.

The question is not whether or not your organization wants to embrace this new type of leader.  You can’t afford not to do so.  The questions are:

  • Do you know who your social intrapreneurs are and are you offering them the right development opportunities?
  • Are you able to best leverage their strengths to drive sustainable and social innovation, and to lead the cultural transformation necessary to thrive in the new economy?
  • And if you are a social intrapreneur yourself, the question is – are you able to make the best use of your natural strengths yet?

To address these questions and more, we conducted research with executives in the United States, South America, Europe and Asia.  These individuals were responsible for their organizations social innovations, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability functions or other social and environmental initiatives.

For many organizations, social intrapreneurship is still a hidden capability. Our goal was to decode and demystify who these individuals were, how they were different and what they needed to succeed.

SIDNAsmborderThe research report, The Social Intrapreneur’s DNA highlights our findings.  It provides a deeper insight into the key behaviors and competencies social innovators need to be effective in their role.  We also looked at the evolution of social intrapreneurs, compared them to corporate entrepreneurs and looked at how culture and context influence results.

Social intrapreneurs have been on the forefront of defining what it means for business to be socially responsible for a while.  This was the new frontier only a few years ago.  These individuals were the pioneers, charting a new course, testing the waters, seeing how far they could push the organization.

In 2011, it was clear that the role of social innovator was still in its infancy.  Individuals in large organizations were given responsibility without authority, asked to accomplish soft goals that were hard to measure let alone achieve, they had limited power and resources at their disposal and they were an anomaly to the rest of the organization.

All that has changed in 2014, thanks to the pioneering efforts of thousands of individuals who took this role seriously; committed themselves to specific social causes and exhibited courage in the face of adversity, they are the hero’s.  It is these individuals that we talk about in the report, The Social Intrapreneur’s DNA.

They have matured, become more disciplined, more creative, more strategic and tactical.  They are more savvy and resilient.  They are more confident, more responsible and more prepared to deal with a rapidly changing environment.

Not only do we attribute this change to their experience but to the adoption of social innovation as part of the new business model. Although social innovation is not totally integrated into the fabric of the organization, it has been elevated in its status and focus within organizations. It no longer takes a back seat to business as usual; it is the future of business.

The increasing adoption of social innovation, corporate responsibility and sustainability in large corporations is changing the face of business around the world.  As a result, the role of the social innovator has evolved into one of prominence and importance in today’s organization.  It is no longer a political position, it’s a strategic one.

The findings showed that social intrapreneurs have their own distinct set of competencies that set them apart. Some of them were the same as corporate entrepreneurs, but many were different.  Social intrapreneurs are more closely aligned and connected with the core business than corporate entrepreneurs.  Leveraging existing assets in new ways was more important than developing blue sky ideas.

We now understand what competencies and behaviors social intrapreneurs need to be effective and successful in their role.  We see a combination of competencies that are needed; business, entrepreneurial and social/personal.  We know where they are strong and where they need development.  We know what behaviors are critical and which ones are nice to have.

We saw how culture and context influences what they do and how they do it.  We saw how culture impacted lines of communication, authority relationships, attention to detail, thinking, decision making etc. We saw how reporting relationships made a difference in the level of commitment and success. There were differences when it came to social innovators versus corporate responsibility executives.

The Social Intrapreneur’s DNA – Research Report 2014 is designed to assist individuals and organizations in identifying and developing their social innovators.  To further support this, we developed the Social Intrapreneur Profile to help organizations unlock and leverage these untapped forces to drive innovation, employee engagement and business performance.  We used the profile to conduct our research and it has proven to be a true reflection of the capabilities that social innovators need to be successful.

Creating an environment for social intrapreneurship starts with identifying and developing individuals with the right set of behaviors and competencies. This is exactly what the Social Intrapreneur Profile can help you with.

Our thanks go out to all the social innovators that have stepped up to the challenge and are setting a new direction for business and society.


Download a Free Copy of The Social Intrapreneur’s DNA – Research Report 2014






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