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For a long time, I’ve had the opinion that ‘intrapreneurship’ is a term and practice that most business owners or leaders in Australia prefer to neglect or even ignore. This is despite the fact that ‘intrapreneurs’ continue to be the driving force of innovation and growth of companies around the world, including Google, Pixar, Disney, and evenAirbnb.
‘intrapreneurs’ continue to be the driving force of innovation and growth of companies around the world
My ongoing efforts to educate and explore intrapreneurship amongst Australian business leaders has always proven challenging and often frustrating. However, my feeling changed when I interviewed Andrew Coronis (Managing Director – Coronis Group), and discovered how Andrew is leveraging on his entrepreneurial employees to achieve accelerated growth.
For the past 20 years, I have witnessed the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, owning and running a number of successful business ventures in Australia, as well as employing and managing a number of people that have added value to the organisations I founded.
Upon reflection however, I have to admit that only a few of these individuals have contributed something remarkable or truly powerful to my business ventures. I call these people the ‘intrapreneurs’ of the workplace.
From experience, the intrapreneurs I have worked closely with possess unique characteristics and qualities that are not commonly found amongst conventional employees. In my opinion, they are ‘rare species’ and constitute less than 5% of the workforce in Australia.
I've always been fascinated about space exploration, and science fiction movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, and even the original Star Wars trilogy. As a child, travelling into distant space, discovering new planets, exploring new frontiers and extraterrestrial possibilities, and never returning back to Earth was a vision that has always inspired me.
These memories were brought back to life just recently when I had the exclusive opportunity to meet two Aussie astronaut candidates for the 'Mars One' mission, on a Google Hangout. I was joined by Dianne McGrath and Josh Richards, and together we explored the definition of 'Astropreneurship', and how this new-age term is applicable to the space industry and to entrepreneurship.
It was back in 2014, that I compiled an article titled “The Myth of the Intrapreneur”.
I was inspired to write this editorial piece after reading Michael E. Gerber’s famous book “E-myth”. This book provided excellent literature about the behaviour, mindset, and unique qualities of ‘entrepreneurs’, but made no specific reference to the terms ‘intrapreneur’ and ‘intrapreneurship’, and how this was relevant to SME’s.
After reading his book, I was compelled to start my own long term legacy of educating business owners in Australia about ‘intrapreneurial leadership’. Ultimately, it was about instructing these business owners to embrace intrapreneurs within their business and foster innovation.
I am always inspired by the stories of successful people, including serial entrepreneurs, inventors, explorers, and in particular ‘game changers’.
Game changers are individuals that challenge the status quo, and take unprecedented risks to pursue opportunity. They strongly believe in themselves and are fuelled by their flowing passion to succeed. More uniquely, they often have a legacy that hinges on the success of others, a desire for global change, wellbeing for humanity, innovation in business, etc.
It is often assumed that once you reach the top of an executive position, you have reached your ultimate career milestone. However, the typical business leader will face immense pressure and scrutiny, and be challenged by constant decision-making and many priorities of high importance.
So why is it essential for any top business leader to have a coach or mentor as part of their role as a senior executive?
Whether you’re a CEO, Director, Manager, Executive, Business Owner, or Entrepreneur of a small, medium or large organisation, the reality is that the pressure to make the right decisions and to perform at your best is always an imminent reality and a common thread. In rapidly changing markets and shifting global trends, the margin for error is diminishing.
The business leader is typically the decision-maker, the pioneer, the risk taker, the problem solver, the person people go to for answers, as well as the person people blame if things go wrong within the organisation.
Before I relinquish my exact definition to the “I” word covered in this story, I would like to provide a few clues behind the significance and importance of this mysterious word, which so many Business Owners, CEO’s, HR Managers and Executive Recruiters within Australia are still so unfamiliar with. I shall refer to this word as ‘Intra’ for the time being.
‘Intra’ has been in the dictionary since the 1970’s, and has been embraced and adopted by business leaders and serial entrepreneurs since this time, within highly successful companies around the world, like Google, 3M, Lockheed, Toyota, Twitter, etc. ‘Intra’ has a direct correlation to the word ‘entrepreneurship’ and is focused around innovation, pioneering of new ideas and products, and boosting the competitive position and spirit of an organisation.
Federico will uncover why ‘intrapreneurs’ are urgently needed for the future success and prosperity of every organisation.
I recently attended a networking event in Melbourne, geared towards business executives including CEO’s, Company Directors, and HR Managers. When asked the question about my profession, with my response being that I specialise in ‘intrapreneurial leadership’, I received a perplexed look of intrigue, confusion, and amazement from the majority of participants.
I soon realised that the use of the word ‘intrapreneurial’ was the root of my problem, despite that fact that I was dealing with professionals with substantial human resources experience, and considerable knowledge of business leadership. Again, I witnessed the interesting phenomenon that a very large percentage of business professionals are still unaware of the meaning of intrapreneurship and the high importance this has in the Australian workforce for business leaders.
We all know that entrepreneurial leaders are passionate individuals, with a zest for life, and a willingness to conquer opportunities despite the risks. They typically enjoy operating outside of their comfort zone to chase their ‘dream’.
Despite these positives, entrepreneurs are also challenged by continual setbacks and sometimes failure to pursue their long term aspirations. This might include dealing with sceptics, managing cash-flow issues, and an avalanche of day-to-day operational issues.
Even more challenging is learning how to effectively manage their entrepreneurial employees, or ‘intrapreneurs’, to create a harmonious and productive workplace environment for all those involved.
Innovative companies like 3M, Google, Apple, Toyota, Lockheed, and Virgin, would have not existed so successfully if it hadn’t been for the innovative ideas of their passionate intrapreneurs, and the effective leadership by the management team.
I continually remain perplexed by the number of people in Australia, and especially those within the business community, that are still not familiar with the meaning of the term ‘intrapreneurship’.
Thousands of people proudly claim the title ‘entrepreneur’, but have ignored the entrepreneur's little brother: the ‘intrapreneur’.
We also know that entrepreneurs can be stereotyped as mavericks, adventurers, visionaries, risk-takers, experimental, and much more. But exactly what traits do intrapreneurs possess, and what value does this offer an organisation that employs them ?
Federico Re explores why Millennial employees need to be handled with care, and why they can be asset to your organisation.
There is no doubt that in today’s competitive environment, rapidly changing markets, and shifting trends, that a CEO is under enormous pressure to make the right decisions, and perform at their best.
A CEO is the decision-maker, the leader, the pioneer, the problem solver, the person people turn to for answers, as well as the person people blame if poor decisions are made within the organisation.
It is therefore not surprising that we are witnessing a ‘CEO epidemic’, where 2 in 5 CEO’s quit their jobs within the first 18 months of their appointment. This is fundamentally caused by their failure to secure long term strategic partnerships with their subordinates and peers.
Today’s executive leaders not only face scrutiny from the public, but also from their stakeholders, their executive team, and their employees. It often only takes one poor decision for the reputation of a CEO to overturn, and for their role to topple. Ego, self-confidence, and hubris are also common negative contributors or crippling factors that only accelerate their demise.
So, who does the CEO lean on to receive help, guidance, and achieve the desired results ? How does a CEO maintain his vision, his energy and passion, whilst staying calm and reassured during turbulent times ? Who can he trust the most when the ‘going gets tough’ ?
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