What is an Intrapreneur? Definition, differences, traits, and examples
Organizations are in high demand for innovation, execution and leadership. However, it can be hard to find someone who can do all three well. This is where finding an Intrapreneur can help launch your organization to the next level.
What is an Intrapreneur? An Intrapreneur is someone who innovates, creates, and manages new initiatives within an existing organization. They have similar traits as an entrepreneur but there are slight differences.
Keep reading to find out more about an Intrapreneur.
Entrepreneur vs. Intrapreneur
The Entrepreneur is someone who innovates, creates, and manages a new business. Everything rises and falls with the entrepreneur.
The Intrapreneur is similar but does it within an existing organization. They love the organization and the mission it’s trying to accomplish. The intrapreneur also knows how to use the existing resources within an organization to accomplish its new initiative.
One of the big differences is that the intrapreneur is also slightly risk-averse. They like the security of being with an organization versus on their own,
For example, on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being high in risk-taking, an entrepreneur would generally be at a 10 while an intrapreneur would be at a 7.
Traits of an Intrapreneur
While there are many traits an intrapreneur can have, there are some core traits necessary for an intrapreneur to succeed in any industry. Here are the core traits:
- Conviction – Deep down inside their soul, the intrapreneur believes in the initiative they are executing. This comes across with vision, passion, and perseverance.
- Intensely curious – They are not closed-minded but open-minded to new ideas. They ask a lot of questions when they see a potential opportunity. Their curiosity drives them to be innovative because they’ve asked all the right questions to get to the root of a problem.
- Problem Solver – The cousin of being intensely curious. You can’t have one without the other. Intrapreneurs are keen to not only see problems but looking for solutions to those problems. They tend to be the go-to person when problems arise.
- A Generalist – Intrapreneurs have knowledge and/or experience in different fields. This helps so they can connect the dots when working with other departments to execute the new initiative. They understand how other departments think and can leverage this knowledge for the good of the organization and its constituents.
- Resourceful – Given that intrapreneurs are generalists, they tend to know what resources are at their disposal without stepping on people. They are also creative in finding new ways to use the current resources the organization has. In their mind, resources are not just people or items in the organization. Resources is also their large network outside the organization that they can tap into in order to achieve their goal.
- Leadership Skills – An Intrapreneur to some extent is his own boss. They lead a group of people, and they work inter-departmentally. Thus, they have a high level of leadership quotient and emotional intelligence. The intrapreneur is high in leadership skills like empathy, conflict resolution, casting vision, empowering others, and coaching.
- Humble – Humility is knowing who you are and what you are capable of. Intrapreneurs are keenly aware of this. They are not trying to prove to themselves or others what they are capable of. They are teachable and willing to receive correction from those around them. Without humility, the intrapreneur may be able to innovate but he will not succeed in leading people in the new venture.
- Courageous – Intrapreneurs tend to go towards uncharted territory for the company. They will be starting something new which can lead people to be skeptical of their work. They will have to have hard conversations and face much adversity to launch their new initiative.
- Strategic – The Intrapreneur can see the vision and start to plan a course of action. They like developing KPI’s, looking at trends, seeing potential pitfalls, and planning accordingly. The intrapreneur knows how to delegate these plans for the success of the mission.
- Integrators – The intrapreneur sees the vision, strategically plans the vision, and knows how to execute the vision. This is a huge differentiator between an entrepreneur and an intrapreneur. An intrapreneur tends to have the ability to execute things well within an organization. They are results-oriented. They are the glue that holds things together, keeping people accountable to the KPI’s all while instilling the organization’s core values.
How to grow in these intrapreneurial traits
No one is born with these traits. Some people may have some raw talent that can show glimpses of these traits, but no one will naturally excel in them. It takes applied effort, practice, and persistence to grow in each of these traits.
The best way to start growing in these traits is to do the following:
- Pick one trait and create a plan on how you will grow in that area in the next 3 months.
- Find a mentor or a coach who can help you create the plan and be accountable for the plan.
- Celebrate your small wins. When growing in a new trait it can be discouraging since you, the intrapreneur is used to being a high achiever.
- After the 3 months, do an evaluation. Have you reached your goal stated in the plan? If not, keep going. Make sure that your goals are realistic.
- Once you’ve accomplished your initial plan, pick another trait and repeat this process.
Examples of Intrapreneurs
There are tons of examples of intrapreneurs. Studio Zao has done a great job of showing us the top 5 examples in different industries. You can check it out here.
Intrapreneurs can exist within any industry. The key to an intrapreneur is that they are always innovating a new product, service, or idea. The intrapreneur doesn’t need to start a new company.
Some Key takeaways for Intrapreneurs
If you have read this far and this post resonates with you, you are probably an intrapreneur. So, another example of an intrapreneur is you. Look at your accomplishments and see where you have exemplified these wins. It’s okay if it’s small wins. A win is a win.
Lastly, look around the organization. You are not the only intrapreneur in the organization. There are others around who are doing great work. As an intrapreneur and/or leader, it’s your job to find these people and bring them together.
Imagine how much an organization can thrive if all the intrapreneurs got together in humility to achieve the overall mission of the organization. There would be nothing that can stop them.