Nurturing the Entrepreneurial Spirit in the Workplace

Many employees have fantasized about being their own boss. But, they typically don’t act on it because of the responsibility and/or risk associated with owning and running a company. This doesn’t mean, however, these employees don’t harbor the entrepreneurial traits, which if nurtured, could take the organization to a whole new level of success.

As businesses strive for increased competitiveness, creating an entrepreneurial culture has become an important advantage.  In today’s business environment, the term entrepreneurial means more than just the business intelligence required to turn an idea into an enterprise. It’s a skill or mindset embodying innovation, creativity, calculated risk-taking and empowerment. It’s the responsibility of leaders to identify, tap into and cultivate these traits within their organization.

Sometimes referred to as an “intrapreneur” (entrepreneurs working within a company), these employees can be identified by the following traits:

  1. Creativity – Innovation stems from creativity. This drives the company forward. Intrapreneurs change the status quo and notice opportunities.
  • Long-term focus – A person who is creative and innovative must also be focused, otherwise they will fleet from one shiny object…new idea to another. The intrapreneur can identify what adds value to the company and what doesn’t.
  • Team player – Naturally, teamwork is essential in a business. Yet, it’s the ability to realize that sometimes others have to take control that makes the intrapreneur standout in the company.
  • Risk-taker – Playing it safe in today’s world will get you nowhere. Intrapreneurs aren’t risk adverse.
  • Results oriented – The intrapreneur is more concerned about the results than the process.
  • Take responsibility – The intrapreneur takes ownership of his or her successes as well as his or her failures.
  • Adaptable – The business landscape is continually changing. The intrapreneur is very flexible to change and can quickly adapt, especially in high-pressure situations.
  • Planners – Intrapreneurs develop a plan and then work the plan.
  • Effective – Intrapreneurs are more interested in how effective each task or activity is as opposed to concentrating solely on efficiency.

Once a company leader recognizes the intrapreneurs in his/her organization, he or she must take the next steps to cultivate these traits.

Create an environment of empowerment

It’s a business leader’s actions that create an environment of empowerment. It’s his or her leadership style. Research shows that leadership based on relationships increases the entrepreneurial spirit of the company as opposed to task oriented leadership style. An effective leader leads by example.

Encourage innovation

Innovation keeps a company competitive and growing. In large companies with layers of management, the innovative spirit can often get lost. Leaders must welcome, encourage and reward innovative thinking in the workplace.

Welcome internal competition

Competition amongst co-workers, if handled correctly, can spur incentive and innovation. Healthy competition can drive co-workers to push one another to be more productive and produce better work.


Communication is a fundamental function of good leadership. Leaders often get so caught up in the day-to-day operations of the business that they forget to tell their staff where they are going – the company’s vision and direction. Employees want to get the important information. They also want to know that their concerns and ideas are being heard. Leaders must continually communicate to their staff that the entrepreneurial approach is valued, encouraged and rewarded.

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