As we close 2021, I want to publish a short post on leadership and innovation. Innovation is another code word for leadership. Innovation doesn’t happen on its own, and it’s not a one person show, but a team game. But there is a spark that’s needed to get started, and that spark starts with a person who wants to change things for the better, imagines a better world; someone who thinks and acts differently.
That spark creates pull, and it brings others along to contribute the new vision for the future. You’re an innovative leader if you’re one of these people who dares to challenge the status quo; and innovators are alike in certain ways. How so?
There are 6 qualities that serve leaders well on an innovation journey: imagination, curiosity, courage, flexibility, discipline and perseverance.
Let’s look at each:
- Imagination. Innovation is an act of imagining and creating new possibilities. And innovative leaders also nurture it in others.
- Curiosity. Leaders are learners, and the future is created by the learn-it-all’s; not the know it all’s.
- Courage. Innovation is inseparable from failure; thus most innovative ventures fail. A willingness to try requires courage; heaps of it.
- Flexibility. Innovation is the opposite of stable. It’s uncertain and you won’t always know what will work. Flexibility, the capacity to change course, entertain new ideas, admit failure, and try something else, is essential.
- Discipline. I’m not talking about discipline in stayin the course, rather discipline in learning fast. Fast learning is disciplined learning; it happens in a systematic and disciplined way.
- Perseverance. The probability of failure is high for any new innovative venture, thus you have to endure the ups and downs; and then start all over again.
Leaders who innovate have these qualities in themselves but also bring it out in others; the latter is the key that unlocks innovation in organizations beyond its founder or leader.