Are You An Innovative Leader?
Innovation is the combination of two human essentials: Thinking and Doing.
Based on personal observations and as sustained by world-class experts in the field of innovation, we could say that innovation is the sum of creativity and implementation.
Creativity: Creativity is the production of something new and valuable by an individual or group of humans working together towards the improvement of other people´s lives.
I think that is a quite accurate description of what creativity means, so will go with that one. Let´s now think of a simple description of the word “Implementation”.
Implementation: Implementation is the process enabling the transformation of ideas into tangible and quantifiable results.
The first point can be summarized in a simple equation: Creativity + Implementation = Innovation.
Why Is Innovation So Important?
Innovation has become the paradigm of business differentiation, particularly in this fastest-ever-paced marketplace where all companies compete in these days.
Several studies demonstrate that innovative companies grow much faster than those companies that do not focus on innovation.
Over a period of 10 years, innovative companies grow 5x faster in terms of revenue; 9x more rapidly in workforce expansion, 14x faster in stock price increase and 750x in net income increase.
The reason is simple. Customer´s expectations grow faster every day, as the human capacity to get stunned was eliminated as we entered this new era of technology, where change and improvement of features occurs at the speed of light.
We have developed the ability to adopt the most advanced technological creations at the same speed my dogs devour their favorite cookies.
Nobody seems to get surprised with new inventions anymore, even when we get in our hands some new stuff that, few years ago, we could only see in the most futuristic Sci-Fi movies.
As a business leader, it is your responsibility to make sure that your solutions continue to add value to your existing Customers in the long run, as well as attract new Customers in the short term.
If your firm does not remain actual in terms of value creation, your Customers may quickly get the impression that your value proposition has dried out.
Whatever it was that took you where you are today, it will no longer be sufficient to keep you there!
How can you become an innovative leader?
Being an innovative leader does not necessarily mean that you need to be the one coming up with all the new ideas yourself.
Innovative leaders though need to continually challenge status quo, encourage their people to be creative and reward their employees for their new ideas. That is it.
So in the lines below I will try and summarize up the signs and behaviors you must show, and what norms you must implement, in order to develop a Culture of innovation in those around you.
In order for your organization to be truly innovative, it is not sufficient with incentivizing creativity, it is of equal importance that you select the greatest ideas, and make them happen!
An innovative leader is one who embraces, rewards and instills a strong Culture of innovation, change and continuous improvement in everyone around him/her.
Innovative leaders focus on sense of urgency and the need for speed. Status Quo is not an option for innovative leaders!
How to Create a Culture of Innovation?
# 1. Fostering creativity across your organization:
Creativity is more likely to occur when:
- People´s skills overlap with their interest and their deepest passions.
- People have expertise about how to solve problems or continuously improve performance.
- People have developed tolerance to change and ambiguity, as well as self-discipline.
- People feels they are trusted by their leaders.
- There is tolerance to calculated risk and failure is not punished, but rather treated as an opportunity for everyone to learn.
- People are stimulated to persevere in the face of frustration.
The most important incentive for creativity is the creation of norms – and the strict compliance by the leadership team in the first place – that support creativity within the organization.
Successful innovators apply very simple norms in regards to creativity:
- Frequent constructive feedback is promoted by the leadership team.
- Task related conflict is encouraged rather than avoided at all levels of the organization.
- People is incentivized to challenge status quo.
- Leadership is manifestly and noticeably supportive of change and continuous improvement.
# 2. Accelerating the implementation of new ideas.
The prompt and effective implementation of new ideas requires for the leadership team to understand and promote two essential implementation drivers, effective team functioning, and sense of urgency.
- The importance of teamwork is evidently emphasized.
- People share common goals and incentives.
- Information is shared openly, top to bottom and across.
- Decisions are made quickly. Bureaucracy is minimized in favor of innovation.
- Flexibility and adaptability are incentivized.
- People are given autonomy to act and react.
Extremely hierarchical and too risk-averse organizations, ruled by old-fashioned executives, who are too proud of what they achieved for the past X number of years to accept that the only constant in life is change, are becoming the new dinosaurs, facing the inevitable risk of disappearance very soon.
It is up to you as a leader, whether you want to take the risk of extinction or you rather start playing the innovation game now.
Remember, it is all down to what Culture you instill, promote and reward.
Successful organizations are made of creative and passionate people, who enjoy following innovative leaders. Their common cause, make the world a better place to live in.
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