How to Be An Intrapreneur When Your Boss Is a Control Freak Micro Managing SOB

08/05/2016 09:13 pm ET Updated Aug 07, 2016

This is part 1 of control freak boss series. Part 2 can be read here.

Intrapreneurship-  the cool new innovative management practice that encourages employees to have an entrepreneurial mindset within a corporate environment. In lay person terms, it’s all about freedom. Yes, autonomy to do the work the employees’ style as long as it aligns with business objectives.

Many companies pay lip service to this new style of work because it’s all cool and hot and makes them look like they are in the hot mix of innovative companies, but in practice many fail miserably. 

To be accurate, 70% of HR professionals are one of the key stakeholders in developing intrapreneurial thinking for employees, 58% of HR leaders are looking to develop intrapreneurship, but 65% of HR find their company culture does not reinforce open innovation and the intrapreneurial process of proposing new ideas. (Future Workplace Research)

I believe that these companies are not liars, they really do want to have an intrapreneurial workforce but this can’t be seen in their work culture because

  1. They don’t know how to incorporate intrapreneurship as a way of work OR
  2. The mid level managers are control freaks and do not let ideas hatch.

If the problem is regarding not knowing how to incorporate intrapreneurship in your work culture, you may want to visit the Intrapreneurship Conference. I’m speaking at their London event this September. 

However, if the trouble is a control freak boss, you as an individual will have to take matters into your own hands. (By the way, if you are the control freak boss, I have another post for you, check it out here).

I get it. Nothing in this world gives more pleasure than the feeling of bringing your original idea to life and watching it fly in the face of your controlling boss. But when your boss is an absolute, total, hard wired control freak, here are few things you might want to consider doing. (And also, other things that rank almost equally in the pleasure ranking are finding M&Ms under the bed or cake crash at an enemy’s wedding). 

So, here’s the three things you can do if your boss is a control freak and you are a true intrapreneurial soul:

#1 Run. 

Run far, run fast. If possible at all don’t put up with a control freak boss because they won’t ever let your true potential shine. You’ve heard that saying 

Life is too short, eat dessert first?

Well, it’s also too short to put up with a boss who doesn’t want to see you grow. 
But I understand that many times, running is not easy. If you can’t run do two things.

#2 Experiment in silence. 

Don’t make a parade of your new ideas unless you have some stability. Try them out on your own. Test it and see what value it can deliver to your team or customers. Approach your control freak boss at the very end stage when you’ve done most of the work. It’s much easier to support a successful project with some assurity than one with only risk.

One of the main reasons why managers do not let intrapreneurs thrive is because there’s always this element of risk. If something goes wrong, they would be answerable and no one wants to take a fall for someone else. Although they would instantly take credit if some junior persons’ idea is successful. 

Hence, gaining as much validation in the early stages will help lessen the risk element and the decision making process for the boss will be much easier. 

If despite seeing evidence that your idea is feasible and probably profitable, they still kick you out of the room, they really hate you, I’d say. 

In that case, go back to step #1. 


#3 Use psychology to persuade
When there’s no option but to ask permission from your boss, play with some psychology. I learnt this from my 4 year old niece and aparantly it’s a scientifically recognised psychological influence trick.
She would approach me and ask “anty, can we visit the park today I’m

I would say “not at all, you have so much homework to do and it’s not weekend. You got school tomorrow”

She would make a terribly cute sad face and beg “can I at least have that candy bar pls?”
I would then have guilt take over and I’d say “yea sure but just one”.
She wins.

When requesting for permission or budget try this technique by initially asking for something totally large and ridiculous that you know will never get approved. Then when it does get rejected make the more realistic and acceptable ask (making a terribly cute face with puppy eyes is optional but not recommended).
You’ll thank me forever.This will work most of the times because by comparison the demand will seem trivial to their mind. 


So there you go all the intrapreneurial spirits out there. Try these 3 and let me know how it went. The last one can actually be applied in many other scenarios as well. Try it with your spouse or mom. 

You might want to watch a video from the Intrapreneurship Conference from 2015. 

And if you would like to get a ride to this year’s London event, here is a coupon code that will give you some discount! So, don’t miss out. 

Intrapreneurship Conference, <a href="" target="_blank">buy tickets here.</a
Intrapreneurship Conference, buy tickets here.
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