Recognize the opportunities that emerge from inviting, encouraging and rewarding innovative thinking. Build on your growing thought leadership by viewing challenges with a fresh lens—"unlearning so you can let go and learn something new”.
- Virtual reality gaming, wearable technology, drones that deliver our online purchases, amazing innovations for sure, but what does it mean to be an innovative leader? Let's talk about the characteristics of leaders who are intrinsically innovative, and how to adopt that innovative spirit as part of your strategic wide angle business perspective. The first thing to know is this, innovation isn't something you can schedule. Let's meet in the conference room on Tuesday at three and be innovative.
That might result in great brainstorming sessions, but true innovation doesn't work that way. It's a pervasive mindset that seeps into all of our thoughts and attitudes. Innovative leaders are willing to look at everything through a fresh lens, even if that means unlearning some things, letting go, and trying something new. Nothing is off the table. Next, innovation leaders feel comfortable thinking in the future tense.
They allow the strategic and imaginative sides of their brains to dance, and that gives them a clear vision of what could be in a year, in five years, in 10. It's creative thinking grounded in corporate objectives. Innovative leaders also know how to focus on an opportunity represented by a new idea without getting bogged down in the details right away. For instance, managers often have a practical side that automatically jumps in when they consider a different approach.
That won't work with our budget, or with our deadline, or our resources. Whatever it is, the logistical challenges tend to trump the potential gains. Innovative leaders know how to temporarily quiet that practical side while they explore the options. They can process the opportunity at a higher level. They find the detours when everyone else just sees roadblocks. So, how can you change your mindset to become a strong innovative leader? Give yourself mental space to consider innovative ideas.
Read, ask questions, think about issues beyond the current deadline. Challenge yourself to push the boundaries, then work to become the person in your organization who champions innovation and leads big changes. Don't put pressure on yourself to create something completely, totally never seen before. Remember, that some of the most impactful innovations emerge from repurposing or reusing proven strategies, methodologies, and solutions.
Tolerate more risk and be persistent. Allow yourself to think beyond the usual parameters to come up with unexpected ideas. Recognize that not all of them will work and be okay with that. Make adjustments, keep trying. Failure could be just one step away from the next great success. Share and optimize information. Gather as much information as you can and try to connect the dots in unusual ways.
Share what you're doing with other colleagues and learn from their successes and mistakes. Open lines of communication and ongoing information exchange will be valuable in spurring inventive thoughts. Link your innovative ideas to corporate objectives. Make sure your product changes or new processes align with the goals and brand positioning of your organization. Would this idea help build awareness, increase market share in revenue, expand customer loyalty? Make sure your great ideas are rooted in business benefits.
Be persuasive in presenting your ideas. Emphasizing those business benefits is the key. Never force or push your concepts, but present them with enthusiasm and conviction. Pitch them in a way that shows how the ideas could positively impact the company goals. If it looks like a big win for the organization, it will likely be a big win for you. Great leaders have a brilliant way of broadening their perspectives and giving innovation plenty of room to shine.
As you shift from manager to leader, adopt the habit of innovative thinking in everything you do. It could be the attribute that gives your career the greatest momentum.
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- Looking and sounding like a leader
- Increasing your emotional intelligence
- Becoming a thought leader
- Expanding your strategic scope
- Viewing challenges with a fresh lens
- Improving your decision-making skills
- Cultivating conditions for team success
- Building meaningful connections