A New Kind of Leadership for Intrapreneurs
First things first: A practical definition of an intrapreneur is an entrepreneur working within an existing organization rather than on their own. Intrapreneurship is the practice of nurturing intrapreneurs in order to improve innovation and profits for companies. But what about the leadership needed to make this work?
Today’s problems cannot be resolved with old solutions. By most definitions, innovation involves a new way of doing something. The need to innovate involves solving problems as well as producing new products and services. Leaders can play either a positive or negative role in this equation.
All organizations seemingly want their employees to be innovative and creative. But what kind of leadership works best in a business environment geared toward constant innovation? The leaders that worked well 10 or 20 years ago are not necessarily the best for today’s business needs.
A similar question must also be asked about employees. What kind of employee is best-suited for problem-solving and innovation? One prominent answer involves intrapreneurs and intrapreneurship.
If intrapreneurs are an integral part of the solution, then another piece of the puzzle is a leadership team that can inspire intrapreneurs to do their best work.
Do Today’s Leaders Understand Intrapreneurship and Intrapreneurs?
Intrapreneurship experts like Howard Edward Haller, Ph.D. tend to view this as a complex question that must nevertheless be tackled by any company trying to succeed in a competitive business environment. Dr. Haller literally “wrote the book” about management and leadership of intrapreneurs — “Intrapreneurship: Ignite Innovation.” While Dr. Haller’s concise guide is not the only book on this important subject, by most accounts it does represent the most understandable treatment of intrapreneurial issues.
Who should read this book? While “everyone” is accurate enough, here is the short list of potential readers that should consider Dr. Haller’s book as “must reading:”
- Business owners for companies of all sizes
- Leaders and managers for all organizations
- Current employees that aspire to maximum growth in their careers
- Future employees such as students
- Professional consultants and advisers to organizations
- Potential and actual investors
- Individuals who want to learn about business strategies
Simply stated, the presence of effective leaders (or lack of them) will determine whether most businesses ultimately succeed or fail. This harsh truth is especially relevant in assessing the success or failure of an intrapreneurship program. Because suggesting that leaders might have to “change” involves a slippery slope even when you are an intrapreneurship expert (as Dr. Haller is), he entitled one key chapter in his book as follows:
One Tricky Truth About Intrapreneurship as a Strategic Business Tool That Can Change the Game for Your Organization Forever
The Leader's Job
“It is the leader’s job to learn who those intrapreneurs are and to motivate them in order to unleash their entrepreneurial potential within your firm.”
(Howard Edward Haller, Ph.D.)
Some Other Views About Leadership and Solving Problems
It often helps to hear what experts have to say. This is especially true when the topic is initially hard to understand. Intrapreneurship falls into this category (a concept that is difficult to grasp) for most. Here are some astute and timeless observations about problem-solving and leadership by experts in several different fields:
- Peter Drucker — “The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The truly dangerous thing is asking the wrong questions.”
- Margaret Thatcher — “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.”
- John Foster Dulles — “The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.”
- Woodrow Wilson — “I use not only all the brains I have but also all the brains I can borrow.”
- Janice Hardy — “Doing what’s right is seldom easy.”
- Admiral William F. Halsey — “All problems become smaller if you don’t dodge them but confront them. Touch a thistle timidly, and it pricks you; grasp it boldly, and its spines crumble.”
- Susan Del Gatto — “If you choose to not deal with an issue, then you give up your right of control over the issue and it will select the path of least resistance.”
- Albert Einstein — “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”
While the above comments were not made with intrapreneurs and leadership of intrapreneurship programs in mind, there is a common theme that applies to the topic at hand: leaders need to be bold, persistent and collaborative in forging a successful approach to intrapreneurship. If a leader is effective in doing this, their organization should improve the odds in favor of survival.
It is unfortunate that some critical decisions are avoided by leaders and managers. In a surprising number of cases, the lack of action can be the critical difference between a business failing or surviving. Some leaders will wait to take action until the importance of intrapreneurship programs and intrapreneurs is described in stark terms such as an imminent business disaster. Bold leaders will act now.
The Power of Social Intrapreneurship
Once you understand intrapreneurship and intrapreneurs, you will discover many new opportunities that are suddenly realistic to pursue. Effective intrapreneurship programs have proven to be an integral part of successful problem-solving at all business levels. Some of these efforts might involve a variation known as “social intrapreneurship.” Here is a 10-minute video that illustrates the potential in this area.
A Business Book by Howard Edward Haller, Ph.D. That Will Make a Difference
How many of us can look back at business books that we’ve read and say that they changed our lives? For most business owners, managers and employees — this should be one of the rare books that qualifies for that distinct honor. You might not realize it for a few years, but do you really want to miss the opportunity to improve your company, life and career?
In the words of Albert Einstein, “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” Dr. Haller has written an essential book that honors Einstein by focusing on how organizations and their leaders need to do things differently in order to survive and thrive.
Intrapreneurship: Ignite Innovation by Howard Edward Haller, Ph.D.