Intrapreneurs who try to make change from the inside out are often met with resistance, which either makes them give up and get in line or burn out and leave the company.

Challenging the status quo with disruptive ideas requires balancing the rebel spirit with diplomatic tactics. These diplomatic rebels are successful in inspiring change because of five habits/behaviors.

A snippet from David Gram’ session during the Innov8rs Connect Unconference, June-September 2020. To watch the full session recording, join Innov8rs Community with a Content or Premium Pass.

Understand People Will Hate Your Project

You have to accept that there will be resistance. It’s like being a politician: they’re met with resistance the entire way, yet they persevere. It’s part of being an intrapreneur, and you should focus on what causes it, where it comes from and how to move around it rather than trying to fight it head-on.

To get through this, you need resilience and endurance to move against the current. Trust your confidence in the project to work with the given conditions.

Only Break The Rules You Understand

Make sure you know why the rules were put in place—and who put them there so you know whose toes you’re stepping on before you put your foot forward. Master the rules before you try to break them.

This requires you to stay humble, respectful, and curious. Question how the rules came to be and what risk you’re taking by breaking them, then leverage the system. Create clear opportunity spaces and a strong narrative: tell the stakeholders a compelling story about why the rule needs to change.

Build A Tribe

To create a community and make people want to follow you, you have to be passionate about what you’re doing and show others how interesting it is. People need to feel like they’re a part of it, that it’s happening with them, not to them. Use clear communication and compelling storytelling, along with demo days and artifacts and symbols to create a strong identification with what you’re doing. This is how you create a movement and change the organization.

Write Love Letters – Lots of Them

Be proactive and reach out to others, humbly and respectfully, to try to understand their resistance. Stay kind and curious, and approach this project with patience and empathy. Send emails to the people you hope will join you and be transparent about what you’re doing.

Encourage “hot desks”: invite key stakeholders to have a desk in your office or other work space, so they can watch what you do and feel included.

Make People Shine

This is the best part! Make everyone look good, even those who tried to shut you down at first. Be generous, and empower others to give to the project. Keep track of who gets involved; praise their efforts and reward them with gifts and celebrations. This encourages people to come back for more, and helps ensure that what you’re doing isn’t a one-off experience.

This is a piece from The Innovator’s Handbook 2021. If you’re keen to dive into the best and latest on corporate innovation, request your copy here. To discuss anything Careers, Personal Development & Wellbeing join our upcoming Innov8rs Connect online event, 7-8 January.