Innovative leaders think creatively, question assumptions, defy limitations, and are willing to take risks.
Innovative leaders push change on a number of fronts. They dream big. They have an insatiable curiosity. They make connections between disparate concepts. They encourage huge, game-changing ideas that disrupt industries. They also inspire employees to make smaller, everyday innovations to internal processes, services or products. A few years down the road, those changes can have a huge impact.
Innovative leaders take action, leveraging their experience, knowledge and skills to:
- Question assumptions. Think critically about institutionalized processes and whether they can or should be changed. Look at the business from the outside in. Examine whether company-wide beliefs are valid. Be agile and quick in the face of uncertainty or lack of complete information.
- Focus on the customer. Understand their wants and needs even better than they do and think creatively about ways to solve problems and challenges they have not anticipated. Make connections. Think about what drives the customer’s customers. Maintain strong and open relationships with clients to build trust even in the face of change.
- Experiment and iterate. Identify opportunities for innovation and experiment with a wide variety of solutions. Get to the root of how things really work. Recognize when ideas should be moved forward and when they should be discarded. When appropriate, produce and test prototypes instead of waiting for long, drawn-out research. Ask “what if…”
- Seek inspiration. Explore disciplines outside of the industry and even outside of business altogether. Keep an open mind. Pursue successful ideas and analyze how they could be adapted to work in another, completely different situation.
- Celebrate the innovation of others. Build a culture of innovation that liberates employees to think creatively and act independently. Help others see the big picture and allow all areas of the organization to innovate. Provide concrete support – time, resources – to nurture innovation. Create an environment that stretches people’s abilities.
- Overcome obstacles - and act fast. Actively combat risk aversion and indifference among colleagues and employees. Inspire others by bringing them along the journey and helping them see what they can contribute. Promote speed. An idea or product is no longer innovative if it is not the first.
- Remain strategic. Take risks that have a positive impact on corporate strategy and goals. Incorporate innovation into the strategic planning process and allocate resources to align innovative development to the strategic objectives.
LFGSM Leaders on Innovative Leadership
“Careers are propelled when people are willing to take a risk. To step forward and propose a unique solution, or highlight a problem that people haven't been willing to talk about.”
- Jeff Anderson – President and CEO, LFGSM
“Don't let the love of your legacy business get in the way of trying to do new things.”- Leslie Wainwright, PhD – Chief Strategy Officer, Avia, Strategy Designer, Business Models, Inc and LFGSM Business Leader Faculty®