Saturday, November 10, 2012

CIOs as Chief Intrapreneur Officer: Three “C”s in Intrapreneur-Executive Leadership

The character is high than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Intrapreneur-executive leadership is an emergent trend, if entrepreneurship is to look for changes, deploy it as an opportunity, then, intrapreneurship is about creating new venture from within an established company-  There are three “C” leadership traits intrapreneur-leaders can bring to the board:

1. Character

Character is nature & nurtured: The content of character may come from nature, part of DNA, but the context of character can be developed via life experience, shaped by trial and adversary; character can synchronize one’s mind & heart, as one of the writers well put in character-based leadership: character is more than intelligence, integrity, ethics, judgment, self-awareness, empathy or emotional health. Character is about

Authenticity: Character-based leadership is based on authenticity via both heart and mind, it takes the character to be confident, energetic and persistent, character-based leadership is how to lead with purpose, authenticity comes from self-awareness, value proposition, and fair judgment. At today’s hyperconnected, over-complex world, leaders are expected to be more as thought leader than a professional manager or technical stewards, leadership brand equity building is another important trend,  it requires leaders to share insight & wisdom, gain mind space of their peers, teams, and followers; they need be voice and make influence in the areas and ecosystems they concern.

Motivation: The heart of entrepreneurship is also about changes, and organizations no matter large or small, all face the unprecedented change, uncertainty, and accelerated business dynamic, intrapreneur leaders not only need to be self-motivated but also motivate teams to cultivate change capabilities and continue to improve.  

2. Courage

It takes courage to be an entrepreneur, as well as a CIO, because it's not an easy job to face and manage risk and ambiguity, and overcome barriers every day, more specifically, it takes:

  • Positive Thinking: Positives are seeds in entrepreneurship, Intrapreneur-CIO leaders can bring such optimism to influence the organization’s culture, break down the negative thinking box and linear knowledge, and mono-color culture, inspire positive substance and style in open leadership and equip the new mindset.
  • Make Tough Choice: Modern businesses have to make many tough choices in its growth-maturity journey, either making decisions in strategic planning, talent management or innovation exploring, Intrapreneur-CIOs will add a new dimension of vision in making the right choice for balancing the business’s short term gain and long term win. 
  • Be Resilient: Success has many parents, and failure is an orphan, many entrepreneurs taste risk as bitter experience, and show resilient to recover, some say, failure + quantity =  success, intrapreneur-leaders may have balanced viewpoints to perceive success and failure more objectively, such mental toughness will help the organization to be more resilient, and nurture the culture of risk-tolerance.

3. Creativity

Creativity often comes from curiosity or concentration; intrapreneur-leaders deploy new idea, new process, the new adventure to adapt to changes:

  • Intrapreneur-Leaders vs. Professional Manager: In the 20th century, entrepreneur and professional managers act more like different breeds of leaders: entrepreneurs think out of the box, professional managers set up and manage within the box; entrepreneurs break the rules, professional managers make the policies, entrepreneurs dream big to make the dent in the universe, and professional managers keep focusing on winning finance results; entrepreneurs present resilience; professional managers manage elasticity; actually, in order to embrace and adapt to today’s business dynamic, such two sets of leadership characteristics can complement each other more seamlessly, also integrate each other’s viewpoints to move leadership into the next level.
  • Being Innovative: Good intrapreneur-leaders are systematic and good at calculating the risk, the value of piloting a project is tied to the broader importance of staging a venture systematically. Capture opportunity, roll it out and measure the result accordingly. Good intrapreneur-leaders explain the big “whys” clearly, to articulate the strategic rationale behind the venture, as more often than not, intrapreneurship is about balancing innovation with other organizational priorities, it presents a possibly even greater challenge--and reward.
  • Being Agile: An effective CIO today may have multiple personas, needs to be a technologist, a business strategist, and diplomat at the same time. Intrapreneur-leaders can be better prepared with necessary skills, experience and agile mentality to fill out the roles. 
For leaders, it takes creativity to be visionary, passionate, and restless. intrapreneur-leaders can enforce the business culture of innovation and advocate learning agile in traditional, hierarchical organizations. Still, leadership is an influence, via adding 3-C ingredients, leadership is more art than science.


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