The Compassionate Side of Corporate Entrepreneurship

by McCrorey, Dee Sunday, July 11, 2010
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Most of us have heard the old saying about giving someone a fish and you feed him for a day, but teaching a person how to fish and you have fed her for a lifetime.

I'm reminded of this when I see so many unemployed people right here in my own Silicon Valley sandbox as the result of company downsizing, rightsizing, restructuring, et al.

Given the Bay Area's penchant for start-ups, I'm surprised that so many professionals still struggle with managing their careers like business owners and why so many employers still fail to invest training dollars in entrepreneurial skills at the onboarding stage.

Instead, companies "invest" in outplacement firms to help their former employees "transition" into a world without a safety net. A friend's husband recently lost his job of eighteen years following an acquisition. The training and coaching that he's now receiving as part of his layoff package provides him with a glimmer of hope.

"I'm finally learning what it takes to truly manage my career."

How unfortunate that his former employer didn't teach him to fish while he was employed by the company--discovering innovative ways of feeding himself and others --years of missed employer-employee opportunities.

Nuts and Bolts of Corporate Entrepreneurship

Introducing key aspects of corporate entrepreneurship is especially critical during the first six weeks of an employee's onboarding experience. An organization ensures a level playing field through shared knowledge that benefits everyone, so don't forget to include your current workforce along with your strategic suppliers in required CE training customized for the company.

• Level the playing field--defines entrepreneurial activities and cultural behavior
• Get it right from the start--ideation and understanding of the vetting process
• Establish clear lines of accountability--consistent across the board
• Provide course correction tips, handling personal and professional setbacks

Everyone in a company needs to know what it takes to operate a business. This doesn't necessarily mean that everyone will want to run their own business one day. However, knowing what it takes to build a successful business increases an employee's appreciation for the "many hats" it takes to do so and provides them with incentives to become "strategic careerists".

How many of the core, foundational, and differentiating knowledge and skills can you check off for yourself? What is your action plan for the remainder of 2010 to address any gaps?

Core CE Competence (Knowledge & Skill)
• Business Building (infrastructure, strategic planning, marketing)
• Finance (models, indicators, measurements)
• Operations (implementation, sustaining innovation)

Foundational CE Competence
• Communications
• Relationship Management / Collaboration
• Negotiations / Influencing skills
• Sales / Persuasion skills
• Personal Branding

Differentiating CE Competence
• Personal Risktaking / Resilience
• Entrepreneurial Leadership
• Change Catalyst / Succession Strategist
• Emotional Intelligence

Compassionate Leadership

Compassionate leadership prepares people for career success on their terms, shows workers how to rebound from adversity, and teaches them how to glean the gems from their professional experiences and setbacks.

Teaching people how to fish for themselves is another way to manage workplace fear. If people learn entrepreneurship skills and then get a chance to practice them with a regular paycheck coming in, they feel more confident about themselves, learn to trust their abilities, and realize that they can assume more risk and successfully manage their careers outside their comfort zones.

It becomes a win for the self-managed employee, a win for the company's leadership teams, and a win for the organization at large.

If a professional becomes unemployed or chooses to leave the corporate nest to start a business--possibly becoming a micro-supplier for their former employer--they know they can do it, because they have done it.

This is the compassionate side of corporate entrepreneurship. It's also smart business.