Great leadership comes through leading innovation. It may sound true theoretically, but somehow, there is a wide gap between the two. Successful teams, enterprises, global networks and organizations that innovate routinely are able to do it only when they snub conventional notions of innovating. Unfortunately, leaders focus more on building innovative cultures to amplify creative agility than pay attention to how people in a group think. While they understand that innovation comes from the diversity of thought and conflict, they fail to leverage on the two. So, how do leaders reconfigure to animate a community where people innovative together?
Innovation When Done Right
Innovation requires inclusive decision-making that allows all kinds of solutions to be embraced. It comes in many forms for all kinds of purposes. In some organizations, take for example Intel Corp., innovation can become a necessity to survive and thrive. In some cases, it can become a way of organizing, take for example Apple’s recent move of dropping the ‘store’ from ‘Apple’ stores. But, what enables people to withstand conflict and tension in order to reach to inclusive decision-making for the sole purpose of innovation?
Leadership, in many ways, is a paradox. On one side, it requires talents and passions, while on the other, it requires harnessing the power of collective effort. It requires leading innovation, encouraging team members to support one another, and at the same time challenge each other through creative abrasion. As a matter of fact, leading innovation requires re-organizing a team’s priorities, values, and collective action. Leaders must understand that at the heart of leading innovation lies three most essential principles:
Studies report that innovation is a group effort. It requires more than just an interplay of ideas that occur during group discussions of people from varied backgrounds and experiences and POVs. Creative collaboration is the backbone of every effort focused on driving innovation.
Decision-making requires that leaders actively explore every option laid out on the table. This means that sometimes, leaders have to do more than just opposing those options. It is only through collaborative interaction where every leader shares their version of the option, that a team can integrate proper decision-making.
Innovation requires problem-solving. In order to instill a learning-driven culture into the organization, leaders must not punish people for trying out new things. Rather, a process of trial and error, learning and adapting should be embraced.
Now you know why some teams fail and some teams succeed. In the end, everything boils down to great leadership. In order to thrive in today’s competitive environment, leaders must seek followers who’re more than willing to foster experimentation and provoke challenges through continuous learning. But, first of all, leaders must create the kind of an innovative work culture where people want to belong. After all, leaders are the social architect of today’s workplace.