Are Executive Assistants and Chiefs of Staff the Ultimate Intrapreneurs?

Join Hallie Warner, Chief of Staff, for a FREE webinar at 3pm EST on September 28 about how to tap into your natural entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial tendencies to create a career and life you love.

I’ve always been entrepreneurially inclined. I’ve dabbled with starting different businesses over the years – coaching, some freelance public relations work, blogging, real estate sales. I even left my role as Chief of Staff in 2017 to try to go it alone (which only lasted for about 30 days). During that time, and in the subsequent years, I discovered a lot about myself. Much if it comes down to the fact that I am someone who is more fulfilled, inspired, and motivated by being part of a partnership.

I enjoy coming up with new ideas, getting projects off the ground, working independently, solving problems, and taking the lead. However, I also am not particularly risk-tolerant, nor do I like having the full weight of responsibility on my shoulders. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to take about 99% of the responsibility. But I would still like a partner to help carry the rest of the load.

For me, intrapreneurship is where it is at.

Investopedia.com defines Intrapreneurship as follows:

The term intrapreneurship refers to a system that allows an employee to act like an entrepreneur within a company or other organization. Intrapreneurs are self-motivated, proactive, and action-oriented people who take the initiative to pursue an innovative product or service. An intrapreneur knows failure does not have a personal cost as it does for an entrepreneur since the organization absorbs losses that arise from failure.

www.investopedia.com

I’ve talked to many Executive Assistants and Chiefs of Staffs over the years who feel the same. Often times they question whether or not the EA or Chief of Staff role is the right one for them, because they are entrepreneurial and are looking for more leadership and responsibility in their roles. However, like me, they are conflicted because they aren’t quite willing to take the ultimate risk of entrepreneurship. That’s why intrapreneurship is such a great option. But be aware, not all leaders, CEOs, or Founders are open to that type of partnership with their Force Multiplier.

INTRAPRENUERS PREFER PARTNERSHIP

In a recent podcast episode with Tim Ferriss, Mark Zuckerberg expounded upon this same idea when discussing his partnership with Sheryl Sandberg. Zuckerberg and Sandberg have worked together for almost 15 years. Either one of them could have done it alone. But they both intentionally chose partnerships to build their business and further their career, respectively.

In the podcast, Zuckerberg said, “…I was talking to a friend who is single recently, and we were talking about why she was single. And I do just think some people want to go through life with partnerships more than others. I think that there are some people who, they want a co-founder or they want a partner who they can run the thing with and who they can have that experience with on a day-to-day basis, and then there are other people who are like, “Okay. No, I’ll just have a team of five or six people around me and I’ll be the leader, the founder, but I don’t need another person.” I just think that that’s different.”

Sandberg is a great example of an intrapreneur. As are, Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s right hand business partner, Sona Movsesian, Conan O’Brien’s Executive Assistant, and me! I venture to guess that many of you feel the same as well.

I do think some people are just more naturally predisposed to partnership. Think about the those individuals who choose team sports like lacrosse or soccer versus individual sports such as gymnastics or triathlons. There are the solopreneurs who may outsource some work, but don’t necessarily want to be surrounded by a team or take on investors versus the entrepreneur who is dedicated to leading and growing through others. You have solo artists like Lady Gaga and Johnny Cash. And then you have bands like The Beatles. Additionally, there are those Executives who are hell-bent maintaining control (of their calendar, email, and more), and letting few, if any, people into the inner circle, let alone their Executive Assistant. Conversely, there is the leader who welcomes a strategic partnership with their Force Multiplier, collaborates with their leadership team, and truly believes that partnering with talented employees and external stakeholders will help everyone succeed faster and more effectively.

If being an intrapreneur sounds like you, then you must find a company or an Executive who embraces your entrepreneurial spirit, fosters your learning and growth, and truly wants to go through life and business with a partner, like Zuckerberg said. I believe that most Force Multipliers prefer partnership. It’s why many of us have chosen the executive support profession in the first place.

As Force Multipliers, it’s important for us to understand that not all leaders want that type of partnership. It will be incredibly frustrating and demotivating if you do, and it is not reciprocated. Being aware of what you want and how your leader operates is imperative for a productive and lasting partnership.

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANTS AND CHIEFS OF STAFF CAN BE THE ULTIMATE INTRAPRENUERS

I believe that Executive Assistants and Chiefs of Staff can be the ultimate intrapreneurs. They are pro-active, self-motivated, problem-solving, initiative-taking, strategic support professionals. They often take the lead on projects, handle many tasks and responsibilities that no one else even knows about, are incredibly resourceful, and bring new ideas and perspectives to the Executive Office. Sure, they don’t have to bear the burden of the financial implications of their own failures or the failures of the company or team. But when you work with a true intrapreneur, you know they are bearing the burden in many other ways – working long hours, going above and beyond to fix the mistake, or investing time and money into growing their skill set in order to become an even more valuable partner.

As a Force Multiplier, finding the right job and the right partner, where you can operate as an intrapreneur can be just the right balance between being an employee and being a entrepreneur. I know it has worked for me.

Do you naturally seek out partnership in your life? Would you consider yourself an intrapreneur? Why or why not?

Do you have any burning questions you’d like me to answer? Email me at hallie@adamhergenrother.com and let’s chat!

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