Innovation is the outcome of thought and observation fed by a continuous stream of information. Some leaders have the talent for original ideas. More often they should draw inspiration from the team, recognising that there is more than one way of doing things and expertise often lies at lower levels.
Innovation is a product of imagination, creative thinking and persistent action. Knowledge and experience also support innovation. A leader with an innovative spirit sees the flaws in existing products, procedures and policies. They also look for opportunities to improve something, even if it is doing a job adequately. They create a climate that encourages minds to be open and ever alert to a fresh approach. They achieve this by:
- Encouraging innovation and diversity
- Encouraging involvement
- Balancing risk and imaginative solutions
- Promoting continuous improvement
- Seizing opportunities
- Embracing change
- Encouraging people to take risks and make mistakes
An innovative leader creates a climate that encourages minds to be open and ever alert to a fresh approach. They have a willingness to take risks and to experiment with many alternatives.
It may be a cliché but a leader will think ‘outside the box’ and encourage others to do the same. They keep a fresh mind to new ideas, actively encouraging their team to develop and express ideas free from the fear of censure or ridicule.
Not all innovation is welcomed by those affected by the change. It may be perceived as a threat – real or imaginary. Effective leaders need to be sensitive to how far and how quickly changes can be made. They must however, still have the energy and personal commitment to put across a compelling proposal and drive any change to completion.
The outcome of innovation should be positive action towards achieving results. Results that are focused on the organisations strategic goals. The leader achieves this by encouraging others to support the innovation, supporting other team members and encouraging staff to take responsibility for their own actions and results.
Dare to Aspire