Entrepreneurship within a Team Pt. 2: Intrapreneurship

October 9, 2019

The frenzy of creativity, indefatigable optimism and obsessive nature of a true entrepreneur and founder can be both a blessing and a curse within an organisation. In small doses the entrepreneur will be an asset, providing vision and leadership to the business he or she founded. However, as entrepreneurs you should learn to recognise that you can be tyrannical, unreasonable and exhausting for a team to be around.

As a business owner, it’s important to check your ego at the front door and recognise that if you have created the right culture in your company, you will attract people who are able to do your job far better than you can. This is why it's vital to create a platform that seeks out and supports intrapreneurs and managers who are able to innovate, work autonomously and take the business and/or internal projects forward, far beyond the scope of your original plan. For example, when we appointed Kristen Holland to the role of Construction & Development Director we interviewed him eight times before we offered the poor guy the job. I introduced him to my family, he met my children and after his final interview we stayed up all night playing pool. It was worth taking my time with him and checking his intrapreneurial commitment.

He has a vision for Du Val’s Construction division that is far larger than my own and he has swept me along in his own passion and enthusiasm. He has ability and skills that I don’t possess and I can provide the platform and mentorship he needs to be able to perform at the highest level.

Entrepreneurs like myself need intrapreneurs like Kristen to bring order to the chaos. Just as important is the need for entrepreneurs to create platforms from which intrapreneurs can leverage their skills and creativity.

So, what is an intrapreneur?

An intrapreneur is an employee who brings innovation into a company. This can be from the CEO level down, which is why some of the most highly paid executives in the world are intrapreneurs.

Intrapreneurs do not face the risk or reap the reward that an entrepreneur will from founding a business. However, they do have access to the resources and capabilities of an established business and their financial package is often tied to the business or a project's success. This can provide huge financial upside with little personal risk. Intrapreneurs should advocate for and expect to be given the freedom and autonomy needed to implement change.

At the Du Val Group, the performance of key managers is tied to the success of the business. Ken Hight, our acquisitions director identifies land and signs off on acquisitions. His quality of decision making is directly linked to his financial package. Over the years I have found the best thing to do with Ken is to leave him alone to do what he does best. He has the Du Val platform to spend up to $100m in any one year on land. Entrepreneurs who want to succeed beyond their initial business vision will support their team and develop the emotional intelligence to recognise that sometimes, the best thing to do is stay away from the office and hand over projects and management to those far more skilled than they are.

This level of trust gives intrapreneurs the opportunity to grow and develop their own entrepreneurial muscle as business leaders without the founder stifling this incubator of innovation and creativity.

The culture of an organisation is driven from the top and it’s vital that the senior management team value innovation in the same way a founder does. While the founder needs to develop the discipline to not micromanage to ensure that key managers flourish, it is also important that managers support creativity and innovation within their own teams so that ideas are not stifled, and talent can flourish.

I believe that having an integrated business requires engagement at every tier of the company and this entrepreneurial culture is something we actively promote across all divisions at Du Val.

For employees who are current and future senior executives and business leaders, or future founders and entrepreneurs, developing skills as an intrapreneur is vital to your future success and can be hugely rewarding. Take on more responsibility, ask to run projects autonomously and advocate for your financial package to be linked to their success. Read every book you can or listen to audiobooks and podcasts on the topic of leadership, business innovation and change management and become an agent for change and innovation.

As a founder, I take immense satisfaction from seeing my team develop the culture of intrapreneurship at every level of our organisation to run projects far better than I could. My senior management team’s financial package is based upon their ability to deliver results autonomously and improve the business every step of the way. Many of them will become multi-millionaires by continuing to develop their skills as intrapreneurs which is something I’m truly proud of.

Next up, is Part 3: Investment strategies for intrapreneurs AND entrepreneurs to create wealth and build financial resilience.