“Intrapreneur”: what does that word mean? I asked myself that question a few years back when a candidate brought it up in an interview.
It’s about treating the business like it’s your own. Identifying opportunities, thinking about the future and taking ownership. It’s about weathering unexpected challenges and looking for solutions.
Although I hadn’t heard of the magical word “intrapreneur” until this point, these characteristics describe the prototypical employee in my mind. Upon discovering there was an official term for this type of go-getter, I doubled down on it — I now probably use “intrapreneur” every day.
Since this moment of revelation, I’m now formally focusing on intrapreneurship as a tenant of our business. It’s reflected in our culture, our hiring, and our approach to management. We bring in people who explicitly, boldly exhibit these traits, and also foster each employee’s individual intrapreneurial spirit, knowing that everyone falls on their own unique place on this spectrum.
Whether you’re always looking for the next innovation or you prefer more of a measured approach to work, an entrepreneurial mindset is important for all employees within the Charity Network umbrella. We were founded by entrepreneurs, we work with hundreds of entrepreneurs as both clients and donors — it’s in our blood. Cultivating an intrapreneurial workplace is a natural extension of who we are. We want any and every person involved to treat the business like they own it and approach things as if success is the only option. If you are acting like you own this company, I am instantly confident you’re crushing it at your job.
It’s a great feeling to trust in your team, knowing that the people you’ve put into various positions are doing their jobs to the best of their ability. I don’t need to check in with each person daily or feed them priorities to keep them on track, which means I then have more capacity to be a leader and intrapreneur in my own right. As a manager, if you can harness intrapreneurs’ passion in the direction of your business goals, you end up with a team that is more effective both individually and together.
A high-performing team is what we all strive for, and it’s necessary for us, given our mission of maximizing charitable impact. Intrapreneurs are the type of people who succeed here, and honestly, probably in most other companies today as well. Don’t we all want to work with teams of creative, passionate self-starters who treat the business as their own? I do not understand the argument that intrapreneurs are not ideal employees.
I urge any founder, CEO, manager, or recruiter to seek out this intrapreneur trait in candidates. From my experience, an organization comprised of intrapreneurs and supportive leaders will result in more effective outputs and more successful outcomes than a company with one leader, a flock of followers and a more traditional structure. As long as you’re prepared to help your staff flourish, there is no reason not to build an intrapreneurial team.