From personal experience and observation of my clients as well as those I’m connected to, women mean business. With this in mind, they should strive to manage their career like one -which of course can be complex for many women in today’s ever-changing professional climate. What I know for certain is that if women desire career mobility within the walls of any organization, an intrapreneurial mindset is required.
In 1985 Steve Jobs told Newsweek:
“The Macintosh team was what is commonly known as intrapreneurship…a group of people going in essence, back to the garage but in a large company.”
Fast forward: Apple had the highest market value in the world last year, $926.9B!!!
I question why we haven’t prepared women to become better intrapreneurs if Steve Jobs was having this conversation 34 years ago?!?!?!? By definition, an intrapreneur is someone whose leadership style integrates risk-taking and innovative approaches combined with techniques typically associated with entrepreneurship. Because being an intrapreneur mandates that you function like an entrepreneur at work, you must see yourself as the CEO and consequently, you should perceive your job as a business you’re responsible for.
Although the urgency around the intrapreneurial woman is obvious to some; it is equally invisible to others. Did you know that 88% of Fortune 500 companies in 1955 were no longer present in 2015? Companies and individuals who fail to innovate will continue to experience loss. The unfortunate reality is: women can’t afford to experience any additional losses in the workplace as we’ve had our fair share and then some! Going forward, not only should women think and act like an entrepreneur within the walls of an organization; they must be agile, resilient and positioned to pivot based on the company’s needs without compromising their values and performance.
For that to happen, women must focus on 3 things: mastery, metrics and management.
(1) Mastery is superiority or control over something. In this case, your comprehensive knowledge or skill can be advantageous when you consider positioning your competencies as “value drivers.” Unleashing innovative leaders within larger organizations will drive results, therefore you must be clear as it relates to steering your career from a competency perspective. Competencies for your consideration include:
• Taking initiative
• Motivating and developing others
• Building relationships
• Championing change
(2) Metrics when leveraged properly result in “PowHer Talk”. Because every conversation is a business conversation, women must be prepared to speak at any point in time about the current state of their work and how it relates to the company’s goals. In addition, there must be a clear understanding of the metrics used to measure progress as well as performance. It’s no longer enough to be a high potential employee or a high performer when women can function as both when incorporating subtle tweaks.
(3) Management mandates that women must obviously manage their careers however, there are other aspects of management that require our attention. Women must manage their time, resources and talent while making PowHer Moves in their career.
911’s can be appear to be the norm on any given day when you’ve created your professional priorities but in those moments, flexibility and innovation are required to move the work forward. Exceptional performance will never make room for excuses, skill deficiencies nor will it accommodate our dislike for change.
According to Jessica Neville’s “A Female-Centric Playbook To Becoming An ‘Intrapreneur” article, women will need to:
• Go beyond domain expertise. It’s great to be the best at what you do, but expanding your knowledge to have a strong understanding of the entire organization will undoubtedly help you see the bigger picture and identify ways to drive change.
• Figure out how you fit into the ecosystem. Carve out time to think about how you fit into the organization and how you can advance it or be a bigger part of the picture. Understanding where you fit in will help you identify problems or gaps to start driving change forward.
• Voice your goals. Research shows that writing down your goals helps you achieve them. Similarly, it’s important to share your vision for an organization if you ever want to see it happen. In essence, you’ll need to convince others of your plan in order to get buy-in from key stakeholders.
• Don’t be afraid of honest conversations. Be open to hearing feedback or even pushback to your ideas. Seeking out multiple perspectives, even if you know the reaction won’t be completely positive will strengthen your initiatives and boost confidence for subsequent rounds of sharing.
• Practice ruthless prioritization. To take on initiatives that impact your organization, you’ll likely need to take on efforts outside of your day-to-day tasks which means you’ll have to prioritize differently. Be realistic with yourself in terms of accomplishing tasks and focus on what matters most. Prioritization is key because women tend to take on multiple roles – both in and outside of work.
Lastly, when you encounter an intrapreneurial woman, you’ll definitely know it. She has the user knowledge and insider relationships to accelerate progress. She discovers agile ways to add value for her own functional areas, for other leaders and she elevates the business. She’s also fearless when it comes to experimenting because failure along the way to success serves as a mere stepping stone. I agree with Jessica when she states: “With only 6.4% of Fortune 500 companies run by female CEOs, we need more women in positions of leadership. We need more intrapreneurs.” The question is why not you and why not now?
Ericka Spradley is the Chief PowHer Officer/Founder of Confident Career Woman which is the premier consulting firm for corporations and the mid-career professional woman who wants to advance, better manage her career, and go further faster. Ericka is an advocate who partners with clients to help women ditch perfection, play bigger and make PowHer Moves by: identifying their next role, creating a career strategy, offering ongoing career guidance, and coaching clients to master interviews. For additional information, visit: ErickaSpradley.com