Characteristics of a Good Intrapreneur

For centuries established corporations have had intrapreneurs; executives who lead new revenue streams in separate entities into being. This post draws on John Gale’s experience and three articles to express the characteristics of a good intrapreneur.

Characteristics of a good intrapreneur

  • Personal skills
    • A visionary
    • Skilled politician
    • Perseverance
    • Can deal with uncertainty
    • Creativity and ability to think “outside the box”
    • Dynamic thought
  • External (to the organization) skills
    • Understanding of external environments
  • Interpersonal skills and experience
    • Understanding of intra-company environments fraught with political peril. This includes understanding of various corporate cultures, management structures, and various types of employee behaviours
    • Ready and capable to challenge the internal and external status quo
    • Experience at managing cross-functional groups
    • Ability to create and maintain a cross-department support network
    • Ability to build a professional-support network and draw on it
    • Must be able to inspire employees to take political risks
    • Must be able to navigate complex internal policies and approval processes
    • Ability to successfully lead multi-department teams paperwork and approvals
    • Willingness to include all involved as heros
    • Willingness to share credit
    • Ability to build a cross-department team of advisers
    • Persuasion skills to accomplish the above – This includes the ability to persuade many in a large organization that a new and strange concept will benefit all involved
    • Ability to keep innovative progress flowing as the intrapreneurial group grows in size and is staffed with those with employee mentalities
    • Ability to balance multiple, divergent skill sets and responsibilities
    • Listening to multiple simultaneous and likely divergent messages
    • Ability to accept course corrections from those without intrapreneurial skills
    • Knowing how to fail within the corporation is key to success. In addition they recover quickly from failure
  • Internal (to the organization) skills
    • Ability to translate new ideas into new businesses
    • Ability to impress ‘C-level’ executives
    • Matrix management experience and skills
    • Management of stakeholder relations – This includes both maintaining support and protection from internal policies
    • Expert at internal corporate networking
    • Typically intrapreneurs are involved in multiple internal activities. It becomes difficult to free up their time so that they can focus on only one project
    • Intrapreneurs prefer to create long-term benefits for their corporation
    • Intrapreneurs obtain permission to act outside normal policies
    • Intrapreneurs prefer to request forgiveness rather than request permission
    • Intrapreneurs are usually only the project leaders
    • Intrapreneurs prefer to be autonomous and to have significant responsibility


One article confuses intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial skills even though they seem quite different. The non-salary risks seem higher than for entrepreneurs. The salary and personal asset risks are much lower. The rewards for intrapreneurs max out at lower levels than for entrepreneurs.



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