Article by Marcel Schwantes Principal and founder, Leadership From the Core@MarcelSchwantes

To set the right conditions for a high performing culture, where people have meaningful work, purpose, and look forward to arriving at their jobs each morning, leaders must consider their employees as business partners and engage their workforce in an entrepreneurial way. When employees are made to feel as if they own a small business, company morale skyrockets and your turnover will do a 180°.

This entrepreneurial spirit of engaging and collaborating is not pie-in-the-sky stuff. It’s an attitude that you allow to filter down to the staff level so they can actively seek out change, rather than waiting for marching orders.

Some of the largest organizations most definitely embrace an entrepreneurial spirit: Apple, Virgin, Google, Zappos to name a few.

Since culture is a huge component of these thriving organizations, leaders and employees open to the idea of unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit across their organizations must work together to foster a culture that enables ideas to flow from anywhere within the company.


Letting people take their ideas and see them through is very empowering and motivating for maintaining an entrepreneurial spirit as the company grows. Here are six ways of making it happen.

  1. Allow people to think and act like owners.

Employees should feel empowered to make decisions, and managers should believe enough in them and their potential to allow it to happen. That may require a significant shift in management to hand off the reins to employees and simplify decision-making processes and approvals.

  1. Cut down on bureaucracy.

For people to think and act like business owners, rules need to be minimised. Unnecessary policies coming from bureaucracy stifles the entrepreneurial spirit. So before setting down another new policy, consider going on a rule diet. Engage workers by enlisting a cross-functional team that meets and strategises ways to keep the bureaucracy to a minimum.

  1. Allow people the opportunity to drive.

If a team member comes up with an idea that may not be part of their “scope of responsibility,” help connect them with the right teams and let them bring their ideas to life. Whether you’re the boss or a senior co-worker, try to give them that opportunity to drive something. It will expand their skills, thinking and creativity. And….ultimately drive up your morale and employee engagement scores.

  1. Reinforce entrepreneurial thinking.

Recognize and reward those employees who exemplify entrepreneurial behaviours that benefit the company–people who share ideas that make a significant difference to either the customer experience or company bottom line.

  1. Give them access to information.

If employees are being asked to think like business owners, they need access to the same information that owners receive; they need to be brought to the table for input and be included in important conversations; they need to be invited to meet top customers and clients; they need a clear understanding of the big picture, strategic goals, changes of direction, and what’s going on in the minds of management.

  1. Give employees a voice and the freedom to ask anything.

Great leaders always grant their valued employees a voice that can be nurtured, not criticized, in order to bring innovative ideas forward. This is truly built around collaboration — the concept that no idea is a bad idea. Leaders must also foster a transparent culture by allowing for any question to be asked, even the tough ones! Then address them in a town-hall meeting, as uncomfortable as it may feel. This will dramatically increase trust with your employees and build a collaborative, inclusive culture.