Let them challenge you: you have much to gain!
The intrapreneur, that unexpected visitor
Evolution and business improvements have two key concepts: employee engagement and corporate culture (the ecosystem that configures attitudes, performance, and energy levels). When these are perfectly aligned, they lead to what we now call intrapreneurs. These are the most dynamic employees in the company. These are the ones who act to achieve this business evolution. You better have a few of these at your organization, because they do many things!
Who is the intrapreneur, and what do they contribute?
The intrapreneur is a rare and inconvenient profile, because while they are disciplined and committed, they are not compliant. If they were, they would be assimilated by mediocrity—which they detest. They are brave, resistant, and sufficiently decisive to try to modify those dynamics that they know must evolve. Their proposals tend to be accompanied by analysis and vision. They are always intentional and tactical. While they are willing to spend some time as filler, the intrapreneur wants to be part of the vanguard. Above all, they refuse to work at a company that has decided not to compete. If you are a business owner or manager, it is important to recognize this profile and, above all, to not confuse it with impulsivity, lack of judgment, or foolish initiatives, things which surely are not quite so rare.
Overly-strict organizational structures impede the intrapreneur spreading their wings and bringing fresh air to a company. If this happens, they will take flight and land at companies that have decided to compete. What a born intrapreneur will never do is sit still and do nothing. Their nature keeps them in a competitive dynamic. They are not conventional thinkers. These professional profiles are, in reality, a source of strength for those companies that understand and integrate them. You should look for intrapreneurs. They are internal motors for and creators of competitivity; this is good for your company, your heirs, and your dividends.
The intrapreneur is a figure that has always existed, in every era, in every social or business context where someone, somewhere, overcame limitations or broke negative dynamics. This is the mechanism by which things evolve to the next level. This is the bridge. Such is the role of the motivator, the leader behind the scenes creating opportunities, the engaged, the visionary creative, the challenger, the creator of discomfort, the driver, the fighter. This may be a son or daughter, an employee, a salesperson, an engineer, or someone who, when passing by, saw our potential and decided to break for us that imaginary boundary separating us from significant success (such as 70% of the limits that companies think they have). The intrapreneur knows that there are an incalculable number of companies that are less than what they could be, for lack of imagination, ambition, or due to stagnation.
This is an interesting paradox: in a company that goes wrong, the first ones to jump ship are the best employees and intrapreneurs that detect an incurable absence of reaction. They leave because their vision allows them to see ahead and they will always find another place to land. However, the most static and competitively passive employees tend to remain at the company, because going out to look for new work would be a bigger crisis than staying in their comfort zone.
This leads to two company configurations: Some that attract a significant percentage of active and intrapreneur profiles, and others that stagnate due to weaker and more conformist profiles. The first group are dynamic companies, anticipatory, innovative, and with high energy levels. In the second group, low performance prevails, and improvement initiatives clash with an apathetic attitude bathed in excuses which impedes truly effective work (in spite of a boss's well-intentioned plans).
It is true that the intrapreneur makes more work for the system because they challenge it. However, this work is necessary to keep competitive advantage in shape. For a leader, the opponent must not be either the intrapreneur or their initiative, but rather the numbness of the rest of the team.
There is an interesting saying: “if you believe that having employees with initiative creates more work, wait to see the work you’ll have with passive employees!”
Marck Madí — Senior Manager, Strategic Management Division (Spain)