The innovation leader does what they say they will. They are persistent and brave. They are constantly learning and willing to admit to their mistakes. This ability to acknowledge their inadequacies is called humility, and it is a key value required for effective leadership.

The other qualities of innovative leadership are courage, tenacity, integrity, and curiosity. However, humility is the foundation on which all these other values stand.

Collaborate to Inspire Creativity

What do the best teams in the world do? They check their egos, leave them at the door, and commit to learning. Teams who are made up of humble individuals get more done. Together, they more effectively generate more ideas because they don’t block one another’s creative processes. They aren’t know-it-all and through humility, accept that there are things they can learn from others.

Promoting Innovation 

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine published the now-famous “To Err Is Human” report where the authors revealed how 44,000 to 98,000 Americans die each year because of hospital errors —more deaths than from either motor-vehicle crashes or breast cancer— and that one of the leading errors was the spread of bacterial infections.”

These statistics are shocking, and you would assume that healthcare professionals would be more diligent about washing their hands to lessen the spread of infections. So what’s keeping them from scrubbing and disinfecting their hands more regularly?

A doctor from Cedars-Sinai can pinpoint why based on two psychological reasons: healthcare professionals think they wash their hands more than they actually do or they lack the humility to accept they are the cause for the spread of infection.

Finding Solutions Together

To acquire hospital certification, a hand-washing rate of 90% is required. The hospital tried everything from communication campaigns to handing out hand sanitizers to rewarding doctors caught washing their hands with $10 Starbucks gift cars. While compliance rates shot up to 80 from 65%, it wasn’t enough.

Finally, the hospital’s epidemiologist took a culture of a doctor’s hand during a lunch meeting. The photos of the culture revealed disgusting gobs of colonies of bacteria. Doctors were now faced with a vivid image of the reality of what not washing their hands regularly looked like. The proof was undeniable and mortifying.

Changing Bad Behavior in Time

Thanks to possessing enough humility to see the error in their ways when faced with such glaring evidence, the doctors recognized the need for them to change their behaviors. Had they continued denying the need to change, it’s frightening to think what the repercussions would have been.

More Humility, Less Arrogance

If you want to follow the path of the innovation leader, you must own up to your mistakes and learn from them.

It’s curious to think that some must first be humiliated before they realize they must practice humility. However, it doesn’t always have to be this way. Before you decide to be a know-it-all who is resistant to change and unwilling to accept a new perspective, realize that you could be what halts innovation, kills creativity, and keeps the people around you from progressing.

Ask yourself: Am I humble enough?


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