The perfect intrapreneur: a skillset

Yannick KhayatiBoard Of Innovation, Innovation, Intrapreneurship

Intrapreneurship has become a hot topic, but who are these intrapreneurs? What makes them so special? Why are people saying that ‘intrapreneurs are the ones saving the future of the company’? Can you just grab an entrepreneur, wrap him in a suit and put him in a corporate environment? Great guess, that won’t work in most cases, therefore I’ve made a checklist of 6 skills the perfect intrapreneur should foster to become successful in his company.

Some people are born with an entrepreneurial spirit, others obtain this mindset over time. One thing all intrapreneurs have in common is their drive to question existing processes, to challenge the status quo. ‘Corporate entrepreneurs’, how I love to call intrapreneurs, have best of both worlds. Their strength is in leveraging corporate resources with the freedom to listen to their entrepreneurial spirit.

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The skills you should look for in an intrapreneur:

  1. Startup mentality: Instead of problems, intrapreneurs only have eye for opportunities. Dynamic thought and a can-do-mentality are vital for someone who needs ‘to transform ideas into new businesses’.
  2. Business maturity (strategic ability  & vision): An intrapreneur should be – what we call – ‘C-level proof’. The ability to make a strong impression on the management is essential.
  3. Project Management: To become the dedicated lead of a corporate (innovation) project, you need project management skills. Next to leadership and organizational skills, an intrapreneur has to be a born team manager. Usually a corporate startup team is cross-functional, so this person has to be able to manage different profiles.
  4. Knowledge of internal (and external) environment: Understanding the economy’s driving forces is essential when creating a successful business. What’s equally important is knowledge of the internal environment, an intrapreneur needs to be aware of the corporate culture, management structure, employees’ behaviour, etc.
  5. Stakeholder management: This is of high importance in a corporate innovation project (startup). Does the person has what it takes to protect his project against internal politics? Credibility within the company is crucial, a large internal network could proof that. Besides that, this person should be a master in networking.
  6. 110% available: Since a corporate startup requires full-time engagement, an intrapreneur can’t combine this with his current role. Therefore his / her schedule should be completely cleared. To achieve this, the intrapreneur agrees to leave his role while the company finds a replacement for the tasks to be done. Our experience has shown us that this is a very difficult step. Intrapreneurs are mostly people who put their shoulders under several (important) projects, this makes their availability very complex.

skills of an intrapreneur

What drives intrapreneurs?

Why would someone leave his safe corporate desk and take a risk by stepping in a new adventure of which the long term duration is not secured yet? We identified 4 sounders intrapreneurs truly believe in:

  1. Intrapreneurs love to get involved in the long term strategy of the corporation they’re working for. It compensates the insecurity that the project brings.
  2. Intrapreneurs receive ‘a wildcard’ to implement the (lean) startup methodology within their corporate roles. These guys rather ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.
  3. Intrapreneurs usually take a leading role in the projects they join. This provides them with visibility at C-level management.
  4. Intrapreneurs love ‘Autonomy & Responsibility’ in their role. One of the main drivers is to work towards ambitious results while enjoying the freedom of creating their own guidelines.

In the beginning of 2016 we’ll publish ‘Part II’ of this post. In this sequel we’ll give you a step-by-step manual on how you can find the right intrapreneur within your corporate organization. Wanna get notified when this guide gets published? Make sure your receive our newsletter!

Enjoy the holidays & I wish you all the best for 2016!