It was while building a new venture for a Fortune 100 company that one of my peers told me that I had the best job in the company. Better than the CEO or anyone else he could think of. His comments stopped me in my track’s, but it made sense. Work was fun, exciting and I was having a blast. It was also challenging, frustrating and nerve racking.
It made me think about why the role of Intrapreneur is one that individuals love. That one comment from a peer started me on a journey to explore these questions. Who are these individuals? How are they different? Why do they love their job?
More importantly I wanted to find those individuals that had excelled as Intrapreneurs. Individuals that had stepped up to the role despite all the organizational obstacles that got in their way. Individuals who loved what they did, believed in what they were doing, broke through barriers, challenged the status quo and still achieved great things even without the blessing of their organizations.
It took a while to find them and sort through all the noise that surrounded Intrapreneurs. They were an enigma at the time, a hidden talent, misunderstood misfits that were disruptors in their respective organizations. They didn’t know why they did what they did or even how they did what they did. It was time to unravel that mystery together. They wanted answers as much as we did.
Finding a level playing field was the first challenge. Descriptions of intrapreneurs was all over the map in the business and academic world and differed significantly from what the Intrapreneurs themselves thought. Even today there is no consensus on a common definition in the business and academic world of what makes a good intrapreneur. There isn’t a clear distinction between intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs. This led to confusion about who these individuals were.
The use of traditional predictive tools like personality, social styles, life stages, values hierarchy etc. was not detailed enough to identify or distinguish Intrapreneurs from others. It wasn’t just about the way they do things it was their willingness or propensity to do it – their behaviors and competencies. So, after looking at many predictive tools we decided to focus on finding the behaviors and competencies that made intrapreneurs successful.
Then we wanted to find out if being competent in a specific set of behaviors and competences made a difference in their attitude toward work. Our goal was to determine the link between competencies, results and love of work.
We found that successful intrapreneurs thrived in environments where they could leverage a core set of competencies that enabled them to be effective in their role. A competency being a combination of skills, attitudes, knowledge, experience and behaviors that make one competent. It was the breadth and depth of those competencies that distinguished them from others. The more competent they were the more successful they were in the role and the happier they were in doing their job.
Intrapreneurs express themselves in the way they work. It’s how they think and act that sets them apart from their peers. It is only when they can express themselves openly, honestly and with conviction that they are able to achieve the impossible. They need the right set of competencies, the space, time and commitment from the organization, and the freedom to manage themselves.
These are six reasons why Intrapreneurs love their job. They are also the six competencies they need to succeed.
- Enjoy the freedom to be independent – They are independent thinkers.
- Love to explore the unknown – They like navigating uncertainty.
- Thrive on being challenged – They are engaged and thriving.
- Embrace and revel in change – They drive change.
- Like to stretch and reach their potential – They are effective leaders.
- Seek to bring things to closure – They are high on execution.
If these are the key things that make Intrapreneurs love their job why aren’t more organizations providing employees with the opportunity to express themselves in this way. Why aren’t they developing the competencies that are needed for intrapreneurs to succeed?
When was the last time you heard someone say they loved their job? I suspect the answer is rarely or never. You might be right. We’ve all heard the statistics that over seventy percent of employees are disengaged at work.
Intrapreneurs are highly engaged at work in organizations that acknowledge and support Intrapreneurs. They are more productive and innovative then their peers. They create higher value and financial results. Intrapreneurs are also disenchanted in organizations that do not provide an opportunity for them to develop their capabilities as an Intrapreneur. They are often the squeaky wheel, the naysayer, the person most likely to question a decision.
These two descriptors – engaged and disenchanted – are the first two places to look to find your own intrapreneurs. One is happy at work, the other is not.
It seems that work today is still predicated on the past not the future. That’s why we developed the Intrapreneur Scorecard to help individuals and organizations identify and develop the new competencies that are needed for Intrapreneurs to thrive and succeed.
We felt it was time that companies proactively identify intrapreneurs so that they can thrive and make a bigger and more valuable contribution to themselves and their organizations.
Being competent in a role is predicated on defining the competencies that are needed to be successful in that role. Then getting out of the way. Only then can one truly say they love their job.