Entrepreneurship is very much in vogue. Everyone seems to have a side hustle these days. Even my wife, a full-time mom, earned a nice sum this year selling clothes our family has never worn (some with the price tags still on, which drives me nuts). I’d call that more of a downward hustle. Side note: Be sure to clear your side hustle with your organization to ensure you’re clear of any conflicts of interest. I have a friend whose job currently hangs in the balance because his outside gig was too close to his day job, and his employer ain’t so pleased with him.
Reports show upwards of 550,000 Americans become entrepreneurs in some form each month. Sadly, many fail and lose their investments. Guess it depends though on how you define failure. Some of us greatly value learning experiences more than money…guess it also depends on how much money is involved.
Entrepreneurism isn’t for everyone. Many of us are greatly risk-averse and have built lives we love on the security and comfort of working in organizations. For some, the education, collegiality, and benefits of being an employee outweigh the risk/reward of striking out on their own (90% of new businesses fail within three years). Working for an organization doesn’t mean that you aren’t as visionary, creative, and hardworking as your friend who heads to her garage each morning to pursue her passion.
To you, Nely Galán offers a superb concept. She calls it being an intrapreneur. It encourages those of us who enjoy working at organizations to bring our entrepreneurial spirits and talents to our employers. No sane leader wants to lose high performers; in fact, an increased amount of time currently is spent re-recruiting current associates, now that there’s less than 4% unemployment. Many of us are more aware than ever of the need to tap into people’s passions, beyond their current roles. How do we create an environment where our associates can bring their entrepreneurial talents and desires inside our organization, and reward this level of engagement?
There are some easy ways to build this culture, including simply asking for new and better ideas from your associates (regardless of level), or rewarding next-generation thinking by inviting different teams to critique cross-functionally. Perhaps most importantly, model as a leader that you’re open and willing (craving even) the opportunity to do things differently. When it comes to new ideas, consider your own level of encouragement versus resistance. Meet with your leadership team, talk about this concept of intrapreneurialism, and discuss how each of them can foster and model it in their departments.
To all the formal leaders reading this, remember this important leadership principle: Contrary to pithy quotes on social media, you don’t create engagement in others. Rather you create the conditions for others to choose their own levels of engagement. Encouraging intrapreneurs is one of the most powerful ways to do that.
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