Wikipedia defines intrapreneurship as “the act of behaving like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization.” In my view, intrapreneurs are people who, whether they make coffee or run the show from the top of the food chain, have a vested interest in thinking outside the box, pushing new and disruptive ideas forward in their companies and speaking their mind.
Taking this road isn’t usually a popular choice. It’s easier to go with the flow, collect your paycheck and call it a day. However, the benefits of being an empowered, vocal employee are huge. Becoming an intrapreneur at work can help your career — and even the careers of people around you — in a variety of ways.
It demonstrates leadership.
Speaking up when something isn’t going as you think it should — even if it’s just the way a project is being approached — demonstrates confidence and forward thinking. If you’ve never viewed yourself as a leader, this might seem very daunting at first. And many people, women especially, might even feel as though they need permission to make their voice heard. The following quote opened my eyes and shifted my perspective on this many years ago:
“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” — Roseanne Barr
Feel how you may about Roseanne, but this idea is simple and empowering. Those who are comfortable speaking their mind are more likely to be seen as having the potential to lead others, a must if you want to move up to a managerial role.
You’ll be more respected.
Even if they disagree with you, your colleagues are more likely to respect you as a professional if you demonstrate assertiveness and independent thinking. Respect yourself and your own ideas, and others will respect you in turn.
You’ll be happier.
Intrapreneurs understand that their careers are in their own hands. If they’re unhappy at work or don’t like something about their workplace or responsibilities, they don’t complain about it; they take steps to change it. Being active instead of passive about your goals and personal vision will make you happier — with your job and yourself — in the long run.
Your company will become a better place for everyone to work.
Vocal employees are more likely to produce a culture where everyone believes they can contribute to a larger conversation about the company and its future. This is key to producing a truly collaborative culture that fosters loyalty.
It’s also vital to ensuring that companies act in ethical ways. Take the example of Carmen Segarra, who was hired by the New York Fed to inspect banks like Goldman Sachs following the financial crisis. According to tapes Segarra secretly recorded, the New York Fed was too afraid of damaging relationships with the big banks, causing them to look the other way more than they should have.
Government regulation of the financial industry is an extreme example, but it can happen anywhere. Company cultures that discourage workers from contradicting the status quo can lead to stagnant progress at best and corruption at worst. Intrapreneurs understand that sometimes ruffling a few feathers is the right thing to do.
Pioneering new and bold ideas is how innovation happens.
Intrapreneurs don’t think of an idea and then shelve it because “the boss will never go for it.” They push forward and ensure their ideas have a voice. They also think creatively about finding a way to make the idea fit within an existing initiative or program. Without people who’re willing to go to bat for their ideas, nothing new and innovative is likely to happen.
Wouldn’t you rather be that person?
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