You can teach yourself to be intrapreneurial, here's how

author: Marius Conradie

A person within a large corporation who takes direct responsibility for turning an idea into

 a profitable finished product through assertive risk taking and innovation.

- dictionary definition: intrapreneur

Understanding office politics

Office politics can be classified into positive office politics and negative office politics. 

What is positive office politics?

A simple and more clear description of positive office politics would be the practice of diplomacy and having an ambassadorial approach in the work place. You collaborate, motivate and drive towards a successful outcome in business activities and show no bias or noticeable negative sentiments towards any colleague. You contribute substantiated and clear input and support the decisions most ideal for the objectives, regardless of who's idea it is.

So what is negative office politics?

Negative politics is what most refer to when talking about office politics. This when individuals promote their own interests and perceived value by defaming or degrading their colleague's. 

Negative office politics start when individuals wish to advance in their organisation and beyond their current skills set and have no additional value to add to the organisation. Instead of growing their skill set to expand to the next level, they choose to manage their personal brand through competitive means such as rumours of co-workers and down talking their colleagues who they identify as more suitable for the position they're aspiring to. These are individuals who fall into one of two types: someone who wants to add more value but is not sure how to do that and those that want more but does not want to work for it.

Why does negative office politics prevail?

Most employees start out their first job believing they will learn and skill up purely through work experience and years spent in the organisation. After a few years (for some this is 2-4 years, for others this is 6-8 years or more) they notice some of their  colleagues advancing faster than they do.

They've noticed colleagues practicing negative politics and advancing through it. This leads them to conclude that the only way to progress in their career would be to join the network and practice the same activities.

Not sure HOW to deal with negative politics?

In a later article we'll explore practical tips for effectively dealing with negative politics. 

So what is intrapreneurial career building?

To Advance yourself to that next promotion you need to understand the organisation you're working for. Every business values results that lead to making money or saving money. This can be in various forms, acquiring new business, optimising operational costs, reducing capital expenditure, improving customer experience and driving sales and leads.

Start by accepting that your current contribution to the organisation is sufficient for your current role in it. To progress, first decide which role you want to advance to next, this is important as you need to focus your efforts in one direction. Understand the business accumen, values and model. Identify what skills and value you're lacking but is required for the next role you want to pursue. 

Now comes the intrapreneurial part. Learn as much about the business and it's major stake holders and their strategies and look for opportunities that you can address to align with the business strategy. Being intrapreneurial is almost the same process as being an entrepreneur, you identify a need, a potential and how you can add unique value that will lead to real results. 

If you're not confident in your own entrepreneurial abilities then see this intrapreneurial approach as a compromise between being employed and being a business owner. Utilise the intrapreneurial approach to learn the skills needed to succeed. This includes enforcing your communication skills, thinking outside the main ideas, researching and identifying missed opportunities to increase the success of projects and strategies. Take initiative, don't wait to be asked or given the opportunity. Practice being diplomatic with colleagues (yes even the negative political players) and practice your leadership skills by adopting leadership qualities through practice, this involves being diplomatic about the organisation's initiatives and not being pessimistic or negative. Practice articulating your ideas in concise statements with no room for ambiguity. 

Not sure HOW to be intrapreneurial?

In the next part of this series we'll explore intrapreneurialship and how to become one. Yes, you can become intrapreneurial through practicing certain principles and habits. With enough practice, you'll build an intuition for it and with time it becomes second nature, it's a form of reprogramming your brain.