“Dear Manager,

I am an innovator. I love to think about how to improve my world. I have great ideas, and I believe I can create real value. It’s just… my entrepreneurial spirit is tired! I have been out there alone, flying my ideas and failing and learning and failing and learning. I just need some backup”.

This is this internal monologue of innovators all everywhere, they are not boundless / endless balls of go getter energy. They have joined your organisation because they need stability and have come to you because they believe in what you do. They see a home for themselves with you and your organisation. They still love to innovate, but now it’s for you.

Entrepreneurs and innovators at one stage or another, run out of steam, and need to just reset while they dust themselves off. They have gone the safe route for now because they could not sustain the hits of failure for much longer. They just needed to conform for a while, while they muster up the next burst of energy or capital to pursue that big idea.

However, Managers of these individuals, you have struck gold. You will know them when you see them, and this is my advice to you Dear Manager. Hold onto them for they have the thinking, willpower and drive to really shake things up in your space. These individuals are hardwired to create value where ever they are. It’s in their DNA, and while you still have them playing on your team, use that to your mutual advantage. You may end up keeping that talent longer than they intended.

In today’s fast paced VUCA world, if you are not innovating you are becoming irrelevant. These hidden gems in your business are the catalysts that you need to bring on positive change and start innovating. Managers, once you spot them, you need to start cultivating them. Re-ignite that fire!

What I mean by this is, create a more formal structure with your full support enabling them to pull out that creative bag of tricks and start coming up with solutions to your organisational problems.

What I am not saying, is change their entire job spec. They already have the job because they are adding value there currently. I can guarantee you though, they are thinking of improving areas outside of their daily role. It’s this desire that needs to be channelled with that structure from you.

Give them the space and authority to execute on ideas and hold them to account. Ownership and accountability here are key. So if you say to your intropreneur / innovator that they have 10% of their time in the office to dedicate to anything they want, you should get feedback and updates on how it’s going. Get behind them and help them drive it. Once they feel more comfortable and have developed a rhythm, you will more than likely just need to get out of their way and let them work. Until that happens, believe in them, get behind them, offer them a level of support and freedom to create solutions while holding them to account.

One of the joys of being a manager are seeing results come to fruition under your leadership. Helping innovators find their voice will not only serve them well, but also help your company find solutions and opportunities in every challenge that presents itself to your business. So, believe in the talent of your employees, dear manager, it goes a long way!