The one for those who manage mavericks

Well not strictly mavericks – what I really mean is intrapreneurs. Those who operate as entrepreneurs but within organisations. If you’ve been reading this blog from the start you’ll know the whole purpose behind writing it was to find some individuals who may be described as intrapreneurs and get in contact with them for interviews. Now having finished the whole research process it seemed appropriate to share at least some of what I found.

One of the my research interests was discovering the impact of the line manager on the individual intrapreneur. What I found was broadly there were three modes of behaviour that supported intrapreneurial behaviour. The list of behaviours that DIDN’T support intrapreneurs was SO long that it would be a whole project in itself but they can be summarised as ‘being a risk adverse, arse covering scaredy cat’ although I wouldn’t have submitted that to uni!!

So the three types are:

1. Sponsor

Provide organisational support (as opposed to personal support). Are usually a very senior manager. Help get hold of resources or keep those you’ve already got. Protect you from the cogs of the machine (governance). Manage senior stakeholders and calm them down when they get to flapping. Hold back the tide of resistance until you can get some success

2. Mentor

Provide personal support. Help the individual cope with the ups and downs of an initiative especially for those who are used to having results to keep themselves calm. Encouragements – lots of it. Help the individual make sense of the nonsense going on in their heads. Sometimes just sit and listen (and sooth with wine)

3. Licensor

Combine many of the things in both 1 and 2 but significantly have been involved in the genesis of the idea/concept/product/initiative so are likely to be more comfortable doing some of the hand holding/tide holding mentioned above.

So there it is – about 1200 words of academese in 3 short paragraphs and I’ll spare you from the rest for now at least. However I will leave you with something to think about – if you are leading people who are operating outside of ‘normal’ corporate operations with the intent of improving the organisation (i.e. mavericks as opposed to rogues who’s intent is less clear) then think about which if any of these roles you play…

Oh and for anyone interested this is a word cloud of my project just in case you’re having trouble sleeping at any time!

Project Wordle



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4 responses to “The one for those who manage mavericks

  1. Thanks Rob, I enjoyed reading this post. Strikes me that for a good few years I think this is what I tried to do in BT. The truth is that whether it be someone who is genuinely acting to improve the organisation or someone more….rogue, most companies have a really hard time dealing with this kind of person. Which is a shame, he said expressing no bias whatsoever

  2. There could be an opportunity here to explore this as a desirable characteristic of leaders; to seek out, bring out, drag out, nurture the intrapreneur.

    Loved the world cloud too; read a great book “The Workplace Within” by Larry Hirschhorn which it reminded me of. Very interesting enquiry into organisatiional psychodynamics.

  3. I have also spent most of my career swimming against the tide, and have had some great supporters and mentors along the way. Thanks for confirming that there really are other people like me, that we do achieve change, and that we are even worth writing about!

  4. The maverick can contribute positive and negative things to an organization, and can be a blessing or a curse to any manager !!

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