Leaders, Engage Employees Through Entrepreneurial Spirit

Over the past 20 years, many people have asked me how I could have walked away from a well paying high perks career at a major pharmaceutical company to start my own business. Why would anyone want to leave?

The question always brings me back to one word — more.
I wanted to do more, think more, learn more, share more, engage more, produce more, and have more of a values based work life.

Sounds like employee engagement doesn’t it? In the hierarchical corporate culture of twenty years ago, that didn’t exist.

Today, there are many employees who do not want the risk of self-employment yet are ready to be more engaged at work. Leaders you can take the organization to new heights of success when you engage employees through their entrepreneurial spirit.

Leaders, Engage Employees More Through the Inner Entrepreneur Image by:sentxd

Engage Employees Through Their Entrepreneurial Spirit

Engage for Results.

Engage with the funnel up.
20 years ago the funnel was inverted.

Don't bury the entrepreneurial spirit.

When you engage these entrepreneurial desires, you funnel talents into results.

  • Desire to learn. Entrepreneurs are always learning and they work beyond the normal level to make this happen. Picture the benefits to the organization of engaging this desire! Let this image replace the misguided focus and worry of people leaving after gaining experience.

    There is no shortage of entrepreneurial talent who want the security of a paycheck with the opportunity to learn and contribute.

  • Desire to contribute all their talents. Entrepreneurs love the freedom to use any/all of their talents wherever needed and helpful.

    Engage this spirit to build cross teamwork, bridge the gaps between departments, and help bring down the organizational silos.

    This spirit is contagious and contributes to cohesive results.

  • Desire to be acknowledged. Yes, entrepreneurs value the recognition of their exhaustive commitment and work. So do employees. Acknowledgement of talents and contributions refreshes the spirit and commitment to your organization.

    Acknowledgement of individual contributions to the whole, strengthens (not weakens) organizational results. It isn’t favoritism. It is a celebration of talents that inspires and engages more contribution and commitment.

    More on this: 12 Worthy Kudos to Spark Employee Engagement

  • Desire to conquer obstacles. Employees who have seen tough times may have the same stamina and persistence to overcome hardship as entrepreneurs generally do. When you spot this trait, engage it with opportunity and acknowledgement.

    Their gung ho spirit can be off putting to others in everyday work conditions yet it is invaluable for producing results and reaching organizational success.

  • Desire to use lessons learned. So many organizations are passing over people who are unemployed due to the economic crisis.

    They also pass over people age 50+ claiming they are overqualified for positions. Others believe they will be resistant to change and innovation. What a huge employee engagement mistake!

    If they are talented and interested in contributing their wealth of lessons learned, seize the day. They aren’t overqualified. They are exceedingly qualified. And innovative ability and maturity often coexist. They aren’t polar opposites.

  • Desire for responsibility. The entrepreneurial spirit is filled with the desire to make things happen. It is a deep reliability that is difficult to teach or coach. When you find it in your employees, tap it. It takes engagement to the ultimate goal — results.

    This entrepreneurial drive for results is not a desire to replace you as leader. It is a thirst to fulfill their purpose for working.

    Engage this desire with more responsibility without limiting it to leadership positions. Don’t mistake it as a challenge to your authority. Your organization will experience the full potential and unforeseen benefits of employee engagement.

Who in your organization has exhibited these strong entrepreneurial traits?

Engage these talents without structure. Remove barriers to using it. Tap the spirit without rewriting job descriptions. Spark a new culture of contribution that converts potential opportunities into transformational results for the organization.

Related Post: Leaders, Replace These 5 Legacy Attitudes for Employee Engagement

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please first email info@katenasser.com for terms of use. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on employee engagement, leading change, teamwork, and customer service & experience. Kate turns interaction obstacles into business success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

21 Responses to “Leaders, Engage Employees Through Entrepreneurial Spirit”

  1. This is so true, Kate. There are many who would like to spread their wings. Your post is inspiring and it raises to front and center a fundamental leadership responsibility, which is being able to see the true gifts of others, especially when they may be overlooked because of biases or other misplaced assumptions, including some that may well be self-imposed. For each colleague, employee and potential employee, the question is what unique talent, skill or energy can this person bring? What could be their contribution and how best could I as a leader build an enterprise to actively facilitates that gift’s expression?

    We are often so prone to think of “screening people out” of our processes and organizations that to reverse the process can be a truly radical approach: how instead do we screen more people in? Traditional management practice often has become too focused on finding the weaknesses, the flaws, the lack in the name of searching for the best. But the best is less revealed in this manner than is often believed. The best can also come from seeing more in people than often they have yet seen in themselves. It may be just an itch to grow, a possibility, a deep desire — as you said for yourself — for more. The leaders’ advocacy for that beautiful part of a person’s potential — that “itch” — can lead to an awesome workplace experience, innovation, and sense of loyalty and connection — in both directions. I trust the wisdom that says we as leaders release our own best potentials by helping others see and release their own.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Dan,
      So thrilled when I read your comments for they always bring depth to the discussion. I think you are quite right about companies screening people out instead of in. Some of it is appropriate yet when you aren’t looking for talent — you probably won’t find it!

      The entrepreneurial urge to grow, contribute, and be acknowledged is a very powerful force. When companies harness it, the biz achieves as you say “awesome..innovation and results”.

      Many thanks for your additions to this post. Truly grateful.

      Best wishes for a wonderful week,

  2. Khalid says:


    Keep on inspiring me with your posts please 🙂

    Well, that’s exactly right when you said that people now like to stick to their jobs without taking risks to the unknown. The other side of the coin is the unstable economy that makes people trying hard to maintain their existing jobs

  3. Khalid says:

    Opps! I hit publish for the above by mistake lol

    What my company does which I think tackles the entrepreneur emotions for young employees is to assign them as project leaders! This makes people in the driving seats as thu have to successfully lead the project to make it a success. I feel this gives new comers a sense of an achievement and raise their engagement level toward the organization.

    Senior people are made useful during such projects through passing knowledge to youngesters by filling the quality assurance positions! So it’s a win win situation for both! Senior people tend to like attention as they grow older and young employees will feel more confident taking actions knowing that they are guided in case of vomiting mistakes. The big winner in such arrangement is the organization with engaged people motivated to help each other.


    • Kate Nasser says:

      HI Khalid,
      What a wonderful and practical example of engagement in action. Thank you thank you thank you for this. I am sure others will gain much from your story.

      Have a great new week.

  4. Matt Monge says:

    Good stuff, Kate.

    I don’t think anyone would argue that these are good things. The question becomes: Why don’t I see this sort of thing within my organization? Or heck, even within myself sometimes?

    I think part of the problem is that organizations don’t do a great job creating a context within which employees can actually do these things. For example, a lot of organizations use the cliche “we want our employees to innovate more” phraseology, yet they don’t really create space for the employees to do it. Nor do they creat a compelling reason for them to do it. Nor do they celebrate it when it does happen (accidentally, of course).

    So in some sense, it’s crucial that organizations and leaders take a step back and really analyze whether they’re creating a context within which these things they so desparately want to see can actually grown and flourish.



    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Matt,
      Many org. cultures have management focusing on fixing mistakes and minimizing risks instead of creating opps.

      Meanwhile, leadership to engage employees is happening in companies now and I am helping to spread this culture through my work (and this blog).

      Hope you will share this post with leaders in orgs. to highlight the importance!

      Many thanks for your thoughts and insights here.
      Best regards,

  5. Pam Ross says:

    Kate, I love this post! It really resonates with me – I left a fabulous job to start my business for many of the same reasons. It’s critical that companies leverage the passion of their employees, connect them with the organization’s purpose and then provide opportunities for them to learn, solve problems, and contribute meaningfully.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thanks Pam. Always love to find a kindred spirit! Many leaders believe that those with entrepreneurial urges will eventually leave so why bother? Others feel unsettled by the spirit. Yet I know so many who don’t want the risk of leaving yet do want the thrill of contributing.

      Great to hear your story and hope you will share more on this Smart SenseAbilities(tm) blog.

      Warmest wishes,

  6. Irene Becker says:

    Kate: Thank YOU for a wonderful post. The imperative for organizations to develop entrepreneurship-or what we would call intrapreneurship is critical. I agree that 20 years ago, it was impossible to find this type of spirit, attitude and focus within the corporate machine…I was there too! Remember all too well.

    Your post is outstanding in that it speak not only to your raison d’etre for being ahead of the curve and leaving organizational life when the fit was not in alignment with your values and desire for a different quality of life—but the reality that today there is hope, there is promise that organzations are going through a critical evolution that will engage employees forward, together and better with a focus on intrapreneurship that is so critical.

    Thanks for a wonderful blog, and an outstanding post.

    Warmest wishes,

  7. Ellen Weber says:

    Great post Kate. Especially agree with your notion of folk’s: “Desire to be acknowledged. Yes, entrepreneurs value the recognition of their exhaustive commitment and work. So do employees. Acknowledgement of talents and contributions refreshes the spirit and commitment to your organization.”

    How can such ongoing celebration of talents begin to inspires and engages more contribution and commitment, from your perspective? What would motivate leaders whgo are unfamiliar with the strategies it takes to stir new talent in this way?

    We hold a celebration of innovation for that purpose here at the Brain Center – and would love to see examples that you have done or observed.

    Thanks again for the terrific food for thought, Kate! Best, Ellen

  8. Dan Newman says:


    I have always sought and hired entrepreneurial individuals. I just prefer their spirit as they tend to take so much ownership for their individual successes as well as those of the companies they work for.

    Keep on sharing!


  9. Billy Kirsch says:

    Having never had a boss other than myself, I can relate to the need to reward a sense of ownership and entrepreneurial spirit to promote engagement. When I work with corporate groups, I can tell almost instantly if the hierarchical set up of the company has cast a shadow over the spirit and ability of individuals to be entrepreneurial within their company structure. Being part of an organization, being entrepreneurial and staying engaged can all co-exist. But this needs to be tended to, and is often overlooked. Great post, thanks!

  10. MO says:

    Hey Kate, I really enjoyed reading this post. I think there are a lot of good ideals in helping organizations understand the way that they should treat employees. Unfortunately, I think that there are few organizations that are willing to take the step to help their employees have an entrepreneurial spirit.

    One of the main problems for most of the leaders of organizations for which I consult is the ability to give power away to employees. power-sharing seems to me to deal mostly with the inadequacies that leaders feel. When the leader feels that he or she needs to keep control of a company, or their specific piece of a company, they slip into management mode. I believe that when leaders focus more on management rather than leading they set themselves up for failure.

    I think that John Maxwell (2007) says it well when he explains that employees and team members will not do anything until the leader has them emotionally.

    I believe that if leaders can teach the principles in this post to their management teams and get them to buy in to an understanding that power needs to be given away to the employees, this model could be very effective. Thanks a ton for all you do in getting these principles of leadership.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi MO,
      Love your Maxwell quote. Leaders with high emotional intelligence succeed because they authentically connect with employees in ways that engage their talents, spirit, and then skills.

      I also agree with you that many managers struggle with the power issue and it may well be at the heart of their challenge to engage employees. They see it as giving power away and visualize all the negative results and risks that go with it.

      I refocus these managers on how much risk there is in not tapping the skills, talents, and spirit for maximum success. It’s not giving power away it is about tapping the natural power in each person to do a great job.

      To me, employees are power generators that drive success. Managers/leaders who see this breed success; those that don’t max the organization out at a much lower level than is necessary.

      I am so pleased you weighed in on this topic for you brought my thinking even further. And that’s what I mean by power generation!!

      Warmest regards and thanks,

  11. Very nicely done, Kate! I apologize for taking so long to respond. It is imperative to leverage the skills and contributions of all employees. One never know what magical benefit exists in the hearts and minds of the staff and teams. To fail to nurture and harvest the intellectual and passionate involvement and gifts of the team is detrimental.

    When one hires well, delegation should come as a matter of course.

    Again, great job Kate! Let’s speak soon?

  12. Jorge Furber (@jfurberc) says:

    Excellent post Kate. I enjoyed it very much!
    It’s amazing and sad to see how many organizations disposed talent and waste entrepreneurial spirit of people, which affects productivity directly by having the team frustrated by not being able to realize their full potential.

    On the other hand recognition, something as simple and powerful in work teams and leaders and organizations waste this powerful resource, if well, to do the right thing is part of an employee’s job but if you recognize the work well done you reinforce people self-esteem, their commitment to the organization and also awaken in other team members the interest to be recognized making their productivity and the effort to improve things grow significantly.

    I’ve seen people afraid to hire people with an entrepreneurial spirit with the excuse that they will not last on the job, an approach clearly wrong and poor.

    Thanks for the invitation message to participate!
    Warmest Wishes.

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