Driving Entrepreneurship in a Multicultural Environment

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The economic, political, social and technological landscape of the corporate world has shifted over the last decade. The technology revolution has made geography less relevant. Free trade and globalization have significantly enhanced economic integration. Unicorn companies are disappearing as fast as they appear. Political decisions in one part of the world have a significant effect in other parts of the globe.


Entrepreneurs are defining the new rules of engagement in this rapidly changing environment. In a corporate scenario, the challenge is to nurture a culture of entrepreneurship and empowerment, which makes the organization agile enough to keep pace with the world outside.

Showcase Examples

The use of buzzwords like values and glossy taglines around entrepreneurship will not necessarily drive an entrepreneurial culture unless they ring true to the employee. The power of an entrepreneurial culture comes in when there are many stories and examples of employees who have achieved amazing things by taking initiative, making decisions independently and acting as entrepreneurs.

Align Leadership Behaviors

 What is seen as effective leadership differs from one organization to the other. The behaviors that are associated with effective leadership across levels often help drive desired behavior. Role modelling and encouragement by senior leaders also gives employees the confidence to behave like true entrepreneurs.

Invest in Long Term Purpose

A compelling long term purpose and vision that excites employees and helps them make effective decisions is a key driver of an empowered culture. This needs to transcend profit maximization and look at long term value creation for all stakeholders – employees, customers, shareholders as well as society at large. This helps create a shared sense of meaning, Nandini Piramal, Executive Director, Piramal Enterprises cohesiveness, and trust within the organization. True entrepreneurial behavior is an outcome of this.

Reward the Right Behaviors

Key questions to ask are around the definition of performance in the organization – what are the behaviors you want to reward and drive? Recognizing the right behavior and not just results requires significant organizational commitment to driving a culture of entrepreneurship and empowerment. Recognizing employees who demonstrate entrepreneurial behavior and showcasing them as role models (and equally, not unnecessarily penalizing employees for failures) encourages others to feel confident enough to do so as well.

Identify Right Talent

Leadership development needs to be a process that cuts across levels. The earlier your future leaders are spotted and developed, the more likely you are to create a culture of entrepreneurship and empowerment. Identification of future leaders is a great way to drive entrepreneurship – seek leaders who test boundaries, are open to new ideas and are willing to learn and experiment. At Piramal, we believe in taking early bets on people – this is our way of demonstrating commitment to entrepreneurship across levels. We also have leadership development programmes that encourage diversity of thought, incubation of new ideas, and breaking traditional hierarchical barriers.

Leverage the Diversity Dividend

Diversity is a great strength in today’s world – it breeds innovation and entrepreneurship. Successful organizations leverage the diversity of perspectives, experiences, cultures, genders, and age that exists within the organization. It is also important to invest in developing intercultural competence and sensitisation on gender, generational and other aspects of diversity to enable this. 

(This article was first published in the March issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)