Preparing innovative leaders
Preparing innovative leaders
Driven in large part by the many technological advances of the last decade, the business world is in a continuous state of flux. These changes have put a lot of pressure on companies, especially those that had their roots clinging to traditional ways of doing things.
Other companies have been more flexible, less attached to the old business models. For them, new technologies have not been seen as a problem, but as an opportunity waiting to be exploited. Being able to see things this way, especially when many others were struggling to preserve outdated models, requires a specific set of skills or characteristics. These are skills that not only facilitate creativity but also inspire it in others.
This set of characteristics is known as innovation leadership, arguably one of the most important forces driving the 21st-century business environment. Here are seven characteristics that all innovative leaders have in common.
Authority has always been at the core of running a business. Being the boss requires an individual dose of authority that employees can look up to. But, the underlying force that drives others to be creative is influence, not authority. The difference between the two is simple. On the one hand, authority is strongly linked to command and hierarchy; while the ability to influence others is more related to character, caring, and risk-taking. In other words, by innovative leader we mean who you are, rather than what you do.
They think about the future, create the present, and learn from the past.
Although the day-to-day activities of an organization tend to be urgent and immediate, they have almost nothing to do with innovation. Unlike almost all activities within a business, innovation does not perform well in the present, but in the future. However, a great innovative leader cannot simply fantasize about the future.
He or she also needs to manage the present and learn selectively from the past. This is necessary to invent new business models, optimize existing ones and eliminate obsolete values and practices without looking back.
It is no surprise to anyone that innovative leaders need to be open-minded. Only with this particular mindset, without bias, will they be receptive to exploring a new idea whenever it comes their way. That’s not to say that every idea will be great, but giving each one the benefit of the doubt will encourage an innovative culture within the organization.
High emotional intelligence
Contrary to popular belief, innovative leaders need to have their emotions under control. This will allow them to stay above the politicking and intrigue of the corporate world. But it will also keep them safe from negative states of mind, such as anxiety and depression, which, in particular, do not go well with innovation.
People of action
Innovative leaders don’t tend to stand on the sidelines watching things unfold. They are particularly energized by the action taking place around them and like to get their hands dirty, so to speak. They genuinely enjoy leading the team towards improvement, innovation and efficiency.
You can’t be an innovative leader without the ability to see opportunities that others may not notice. But in order to be able to do so, they need to spot patterns and details, as well as make accurate assessments and find solutions to different problems.
New ideas are not generated in a vacuum and innovative leaders are fully aware of this fact. Because of this, they share their knowledge and vision with anyone who is interested in listening. In fact, individual success and innovation rarely work together. It is usually the synergy generated by two or more minds working together toward the same goal that makes innovation take root.
While this list is not exhaustive, it presents a leadership model that is unlike many other established ones. These seven characteristics correspond, more or less, to character traits and not actual skills per se. They are more a way of thinking than a type of specialized knowledge. The good news is that innovative leadership can be learned.
At Inusual we have a specific program to develop innovative leadership skills, if you are interested you can take a look at it here, and if you want to implement an organizational program, you can talk to us and we will be happy to prepare it.