Effective leadership stimulates intrapreneurship

Leadership styles are very much related to the culture of the organisation that one is part of, as well as the country where one is operating.

In traditional settings, where the industry is known, processes are fixed, and optimisation is close to 100% we still tend to find more hierarchical styles of leadership.  These command-and-control structures have their merit.  Essentially the boss knows how it’s done best en you as a team member have to emulate what the boss has decided is the best way of working.  It is an efficient style, avoids taking risk and delivers result.  However …

Successful Leaders know how to free themselves up to focus on the bigger picture.  They inspire team members to take initiatives, come up with ideas and implement them for the betterment of the organisation. This requires a culture where employees can grow, are trusted, even to make a mistake sometimes, and, become better because of it.

In the fast changing world that we find ourselves in right now, old ‘certainties’ crumble down and new sectors industries are being developed. All over the world that is a huge focus on the development of entrepreneurial skills and the stimulation of new ideas, startups, new economies that will become the economies of the future.

This means that everything is less clear, a lot still needs to be figured out and processes need to be optimised.  This requires a completely different set of skills where team members are expected to think outside of the box and contribute to the new solutions that need to be found. Not even the leader now knows all the answers, we need the intelligence of the entire team. It requires a completely different relationship between the leader and the team members, a relationship that cannot be created in a normal control-command setting.

So, if a country wants to develop entrepreneurship, or an organisation intrapreneurship, there is a new relationship that needs to be developed.

The intelligence of 10 minds is bigger than the intelligence of one mind.  Of course, this requires the right screening for team members and onboard the needed intelligence, but it also redefines leadership style. A leadership style of coaching, where you develop the analytical thinking of your team members, as well as the empowerment to have them solve issues themselves. It deals with the fears of a leader of letting go of control and properly delegate. 

A regular control- command style will surely give full control, but will develop little initiative amongst team members.  Team member in that latter case will just do what they are told, nothing more, nothing less.

Leadership is dependant on the organisational culture

There is a famous quote by Peter Drucker, a former business consultant that says “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”.  It means that the culture of an organisation is so strong that no initiative can survive, take off, become a success, if it is not aligned with the values and rules of the organisational culture.

An organisational culture is a collection of the values, principles, behaviours, the invisible rules and ethics that everybody should abide to.  They are much more than a vision or mission statement of an organisation, or the values that are written op paper.  On average one only learns about the culture when one works within that culture.  You never find these data points in a recruitment add.  The best way to get an idea of a culture is to ask people who already work in the organisation a few questions: “How is it to work in your organisation? What do you need to be aware of when dealing with people in the organisation? What is absolutely not done in your organisation?” These are but a few question to gaze the culture.

No one can escape the culture of an organisation.  It is self selective, it seeks out its own kind. In many cases not even the CEO of the organisation can go against the culture, even if he / she gets the blessing of the Board.  You need to be the Business Owner or founder of the organisation to bring real change to a culture very quickly.

So if you want to develop intrapreneurial skills, you need a culture that supports that.  One of those elements is the permission to make a mistake.  You make a mistake sometimes, you learn from it and you improve.

Coaching does not mean soft

Leaders that come from a control-command style often fear that a coaching style is too soft and does not yield results quickly enough.  This is a big misunderstanding.  Coaching is very result oriented, but it does follow the rule that in coaching the leader stimulates the team member to come up with their own solutions according to a well defined format. There are 3 reasons why we want to stimulate coming up with solutions: 1) it increases the analytical skill to find solutions to problems, 2) it increases motivation to execute on the idea as the suggestion is their own, 3) it frees you up as a leader to focus on the overal picture and things that matter.