Copyright TIGERS Success Series

By Dianne Crampton

If you think that entrepreneurial-minded and innovative employees are plotting to steal “top secret” company ideas, sell them to your competitors, or start their own businesses, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. As a matter of fact, organizations with this mindset aren’t harnessing the wealth of untapped leadership skills these employees bring to the table. These individuals are creative, they are problem solvers, and they want to belong to company that values profit centers and teams.

Controlling or Collaborating?

There are two types of entrepreneurs and for decades, the preferred, elite employers have sought out and nurtured these entrepreneurial team players and reaped big rewards of sustainable success.

Serial entrepreneurs (SE) are the traditional entrepreneur in every sense of the word. They are driven to form their own businesses, are highly individualistic, have a sense of urgency about them, and a desire to control and oversee the business. Think of the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of the world. They are brilliant, creative business professionals who built two of the greatest corporations today. These creators need to be challenged continuously or organizations run the risk of having this type of entrepreneurial-minded employee disengage and leave the company. They like to own what they do and are C-suite employees.

On the other, not so far, end of the spectrum are the entrepreneurial-minded people (EMP). These individuals are also innovative in their ideas, go-getters, and thrive on problem solving. But they differ in attitudes from the serial entrepreneur towards control. They are less concerned about exerting control and are most productive when collaborating and striving toward goals within teams. They make exceptional team leaders and project coordinators and can be found at all levels of the organization.  They also love to own what they do and like to keep track of the successes a team achieves.

How do you identify the entrepreneurs in your organization?

It’s quite simple actually… just ask them. During the hiring process or in a performance review, there are four key questions to ask potential and existing employees. And we are not proposing “yes” or “no” questions.  Instead you will be asking open ended questions so you can gather the proper information as employee candidates or employees describe themselves.  

According to research conducted by Chairman Bill and Ron Bonnstetter of Target Training International, these questions reveal tremendous insight into motivating factors for employees. 

  1. Describe your career goals. 
    1. The EMP will be happy with the position they are applying for and not concerned with advancing into a management position.
    2. The SE will tend to say she is looking for advancement. 
  2. Describe your professional strengths. 
    1. An EMP will focus on strengths directly related to the job in question.
    2. An SE will talk more about leadership and personal identity. 
  3. Describe things you’re not good at. Honesty is important for both. Listen closely.
    1.  If the individual claims to not have any weaknesses, they are likely more SE-driven, and it is wise to know that having no problem is a serious problem.
    2. The more weaknesses the individual confesses to having, the more EMP-driven they are. 
  4. What activities do you do to keep current in your profession? 
    1. The EMP is interested in keeping up within his profession and industry.
    2. The SE is more focused on keeping up on broader scope, going beyond just her career and may discuss things she is reading, experiencing or sharing.

Search out the entrepreneurs in your organization and encourage them. They are self-motivated, possess leadership skills, and enjoy taking on projects that challenge them.

Even at entry level positions, EMPs are eager to stretch. By recognizing and encouraging the entrepreneurs within your organization and providing them with the information they need to monitor their goal progress, you maintain your organization’s competitive edge as the economy picks up steam. With their problem solving attributes and leadership skills, your organizational entrepreneurs can give your business the agility and drive to succeed to remain nimble and responsive in a changing economy.  

Image by iStock