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Chris Jackson

European Mentoring and Coaching Council

UK President

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Developing corporate entrepreneurs to drive innovation – part 2


Find out more about how to drive innovation through coaching in this free whitepaper. AOEC are also promoting a Twitter chat on coaching and innovation that starts at 8pm on Thursday February 13th. Why not join the conversation with hashtag #aoecinnov?

This is part two of a two-part article series – read Developing corporate entrepreneurs to drive innovation – part 1.

Developing the corporate entrepreneur

Needless to say, identifying such complex skills and approaches in leaders and potential leaders requires a sophisticated assessment framework.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ) have long been popular profiling tools, offering insight not only into skill and goal motivation, but also into the propensity for an individual to develop as a leader. In particular, those with a high EQ are able to identify, understand and process their emotions, including the effect of these and the impact of their actions on others. They exhibit strong empathy and social skills – the foundations for strong relationships, for personal connection with others and subsequently for positive leadership.

In other words, identify a high EQ in a leader and you are likely to have identified one of the key connectivity attributes of a corporate entrepreneur defined above.

However, EQ doesn't explain why people are passionate about a particular cause, why they have a strong sense of purpose or even why they seek to answer the big 'life questions'. In light of this, leadership development practitioners recognise another type of intelligence. Supported by research in the field of neuroscience, Spiritual Intelligence or Spiritual Quotient (SQ) is “the intelligence with which we access our deepest meaning, fundamental values, and a sense of abiding purpose”.[5] Through its ability to unify and integrate material arising from reason and emotion, SQ enables us to think laterally and manipulate boundaries. Crucially for organisations, it is the intelligence required to transform, to innovate.[6] Companies like McKinsey, Shell, Coca-Cola, Hewlett Packard, Starbucks and the Co-operative Bank actively explore SQ concepts as part of their talent development initiatives. Evidently then, SQ offers a valuable mechanism to unearth the purpose, passion and personal authenticity connectivity attributes of the Corporate Entrepreneur.

Once these attributes have been identified, a growing number of specialists suggest that employing sophisticated coaching approaches will facilitate not only the exploration of an individual's EQ and SQ, but also the parallels between personal and organisational strengths in order to develop successful entrepreneurial leaders.

Here, the differentiation between training and coaching is an important one because studies show that recall and change differs dramatically depending on the type of learning and development intervention used.[7] Indeed, recent neuroscience research has found that coaching stimulates the open limbic brain system through appreciative inquiry and action-learning, which, in turn, means that it has a longer lasting effect on emotions, attitudes and behavioural change.

Moreover, it is coaching at an existential level, using models such as Transpersonal and Gestalt Coaching, which will really enable a person to live and work more fully and deeply with purpose and meaning. For the would-be corporate entrepreneur, such coaching offers the opportunity to connect with their values and beliefs, a way of gaining deeper personal insight and therefore greater self-awareness and a means of accessing core energy for innovation. In fact, while gaining momentum in the business world as a way of working with leaders at more fundamental level, these models can also be used as an organisation development approach to address the toxic impact that much of the corporate world is perceived to have on modern society.

Business of the future

Such developments in executive coaching come at a pivotal moment in the relationship between the corporate world and society itself. Indeed, one could argue that at no point in the age of the corporation has the need to commit to nurturing the corporate entrepreneur been so compelling.

Not only is the global economic environment uncertain and the competitive environment fluid but shifting workforce demographics are poised to have a fundamental effect on social, cultural and corporate motivation. As the baby boomer generation retires, a significant value gap will continue to open up, demanding coaching programmes that “promote individual growth and develop strong, creative teams to help prepare the next generation to fill this gap”.[8] This new generation also has a very different perspective on the working environment than their predecessors. As the 80s and 90s generation grows in professional prominence, so underlying dynamics of the working environment, professional relationships and personal motivation are set to evolve. Indeed, some suggest that “an entrepreneurial culture will be a new modus operandi that will drive individuals, organisations and societies towards an expanding set of new possibilities, ensuring not only business survival, but also self-renewal and the long-term health and well-being of the economy and society.”[9]


[6] Selman, V et al, Spiritual-Intelligence/-Quotient, The International College Teaching Methods & Styles Journal,Volume 1, Number 3, Third Quarter 2005, pp.24-5.

[7] Whitmore, Sir John, 2002, Coaching for Performance, 3rd Edition, Nicholas Brealey Publishing

[8] McBeth, E & Rimac T., ibid, p.21.   

[9] McBeth, E & Rimac T., ibid, p.22. 

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Chris Jackson

UK President

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