Optimize Your Leadership Style to Inspire InnovationAuthor : Haku Kapule , Haku Kapule is a contributing editor at 365 Business Tips , a new blog that prides itself on presenting the best advice and practices for small and medium-sized businesses everywhere. He is an expert in digital PR and marketing strategy at Inseev Interactive and has assisted with the increase of digital presence and customer support for small and large companies alike.
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As Jeffrey Baumgartner writes: “business innovation is a collaborative affair that runs from idea, through development to implementation. This process normally involves many people with various expertise. So the notion of a lone innovator simply does not exist.”
An innovative leader recognizes the great idea of a creative thinker, and then creates a path forward to make that idea reality. This requires communicating with business partners and employees to generate enthusiasm and willingness to enact that vision.
An innovative leader doesn’t necessarily need to be taking creative risks, they just need to have an image of what they want to achieve and to be able to motivate others to act upon that idea. In order to do this, the leader must have confidence in their team to make their vision a reality and to be able to communicate clearly to motive the team.
Procter & Gamble and brand management. DuPont and return on investment calculations. General Electric and the industrial research laboratory. These are all large, successful companies who owe their success, partly, to these, at the time, innovative ways of doing things.
This article will give insight into how to structure your leadership style in a way that will aid in inspiring innovation and forward thinking throughout the office.
Management practices to avoid
Here are a couple of things that managers do that may dampen employees’ ability to be innovative.
Avoid micromanaging – this focuses too much on individual details and stifles creativity. Rather, focus on the big picture, communicate where you want to go, and allow employees to come up with ideas on how to get there.
Don’t lead by demand – this focuses on an employee following established procedure and does not encourage critical thinking. Rather lead by example and inspiration. An employee who understand the goal and why it is worth achieving is more motivated to reach that goal and will think of new ways to achieve it.
If planning on hiring someone to take on a managerial role, do your due diligence and have an effective background check process in place. Dive into how they were at their previous jobs. Think about getting in touch with a previous employee of theirs to get a sense of how they are as a leader.
Leadership styles that inspire innovation
Here are some traits of leaders that inspire innovative and creative thinking in their employees.
- They must have expertise in the field they are working in. A financial expert will not be an innovative leader of a car company if they do not understand the technology behind cars.
- They set a high standard for their employees and themselves. They also serve as mentors to their employees helping them reach those goals.
- They promote a constant flow of learning and doing, trying and growing.
- Executives are accessible and relatable to their employees. Employees on all levels feel comfortable sharing new ideas. This creates a creative atmosphere in the office, which can help encourage the final point:
- These executives take cues from their employees’ needs. This gives the employees a lot of responsibility in turn sparking that key sense of innovation.
Imagination and authenticity
Shaking up how things are done can be good for keeping employees on their toes and adjusting to new situations as well. While you don’t want to just change for the sake of change, if something is not working well or could be working better, try new ways of doing it. This change can also inspire other ideas from employees that might improve existing system or lead to another method that works better.
Communication and reciprocal trust is key
Employees appreciate direct communication from their managers. Clear and concise communication is rated highly among employees and higher-level managers.
The team leader should also have trust and faith that their team will do their best and will stick up for them if mistakes are made. Honest mistakes should not be punished, rather learned from.
Honest communication and learning from mistakes also apply to manager.
As President Truman said, “the buck stops here,” the same can be true for a manager or team leader. It is their responsibility to make sure that the team meets their goals and to make sure that the team has the resources necessary to reach those goals. Employees appreciate it if the manager owns up if a mistake is made and takes steps to correct it.
Be enthusiastic and believe in what you do
As the manager of a project, you should be excited to be working on it and want it to succeed. If you think that the project is worth doing, worth doing well, and you want to have the best results possible, this enthusiasm will rub off on your employees.
If the project is not that exciting, fake the excitement, even if you just have the enthusiasm for doing a good job. Think exponentially about every project you put forth for your team. Just remember, if you come across as inauthentic, employees will pick up on it.
Make a culture they want to come to
If people are excited to come to work they’ll be much more productive, in turn, more likely to be innovative.
Knowing that they can count on management to listen to their needs and concerns is crucial. At the same time, if an employee has an idea for improving a system or creating a new one, they are more likely to share that idea if they know that management encourages creative thinking and will work with the employee to implement their idea.
Do and not just say
As the leader, you set the tone for the rest of the group. If you set a high standard for yourself and encourage others to meet that standard for themselves, your employees will work to get there as well, especially if you encourage them and help them along as needed.
Over to you
As a manager, you want your team to do well and meet their goals. Business is a team sport and it takes many people to make a project successful. A successful manager has an end goal in mind for their project and knows how to utilize creative employee ideas to reach that goal.
While you won’t be able to use every idea, encourage your employees to suggest improvements to processes or new processes or products/services that can help improve your company. If they see that they can contribute to the success of the company, they will be more invested in making as great as they can!