How to Master the Art of Leading
Originally published: 18/10/2017 13:02
Last version published: 21/04/2020 14:29
Publication number: ELQ-57090-3
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How to Master the Art of Leading

Created in collaboration with Bill Meade, this post aims to advise internal entrepreneurs on leadership.


The Art of Leading

Some aspiring entrepreneurs are already working for a big company. Like external entrepreneurs, they dream of creating innovative products. They, too, must prototype, position, pitch, bootstrap, recruit, fund, partner, sell, and support. The purpose of this minichapter is to explain how to do all this when you’re employed by a large business.

Ironically, many entrepreneurs envy the employees of major companies—they think that these lucky souls have humongous financial resources, large sales forces, fully equipped labs, scalable factories, and established brands, plus medical and dental benefits, at their disposal. How wonderful it would be, guys and gals in garages muse, to invent a new product with the luxury of such an infrastructure already in place.

Guess again. Creating a new product within such a beast is not easier, just different. I collaborated on this post with Bill Meade, director of data science at Neal Analytics. We came up with this list of recommendations for internal entrepreneurs.

  • Step n°1 |

    Put the company first.

    The intrapreneur’s primary, if not sole, motivation should remain the betterment of the company that employs her. Intrapreneurship isn’t about grabbing attention, building an empire, or setting up a way to catapult out of the company. When you have a good idea for a product, it will attract a large number of your fellow employees, from the bottom up. They will support you if you’re doing it for the company, but not if it’s for your personal gain.

    How to Master the Art of Leading image
  • Step n°2 |

    Kill the cash cows.

    Don’t make enemies by telling the whole company, but your charter is often to create a product that will kill an existing product. For example, Macintosh killed Apple II. Would it have been better for Apple if a competitor had created Macintosh? Or that it never created a Macintosh and rode it to the end of the line? No way.

    How to Master the Art of Leading image
  • Step n°3 |

    Stay under the radar.

    Two guys in a garage should try to get as much attention as they can. Awareness of their efforts makes it easier to raise money, establish partnerships, close sales, and recruit employees. However, the opposite is true for intrapreneurs. You want management to leave you alone until your project is too far along to ignore or the rest of the company realizes that it’s needed.

    How to Master the Art of Leading image
  • Step n°4 |

    Find a godfather.

    In many companies there are godfather figures. These are people who have paid their dues and are safe from everyday petty politics. They are relatively untouchable and have the attention and respect of top management. Internal entrepreneurs should find a godfather to support their projects by providing advice, technical and marketing insights, and, if it comes to the point where you need it, protection.

    How to Master the Art of Leading image
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