Steve Jobs once said: creativity is connecting 'things'. However, in today’s businesses, I have seen how creativity has evolved into innovation. By connecting experience, knowledge, and views from different people, employees, managers, external parties, I have experienced how organizations have been able to deliver true innovation.
Innovation can be seen as creative ideation delivery through cross-functional collaboration, to share different experiences, knowledge, insights and views towards a clear goal and/or target.
By bringing the 'right' mix of people together, which understand how to collaborate, share ideas and translate ideas into innovative solutions, numerous organizations have become successful. It’s also important to mention that most of the CEOs, and C-level executives of these innovative organizations are known for leading, supporting, steering and guiding the innovation teams, instead of micromanaging or directing innovation.
So, if we know that it’s crucial for organizations to adopt creativity and innovation, what are the eight key skills for successful innovative leadership?
- Ensure your teams focus on your customer,
- Clearly, communicate your strategic vision,
- Inspire and motivate through action,
- Lead by purposeful discovery towards goals with stretch targets,
- Reduce operational silos and encourage cross-functional knowledge, experience, and idea sharing,
- Create an engaged workforce with trust to share ideas, insights, and views,
- Create a culture in which all employees, from the top to the bottom and vice versa, listen, share opinions, understand different viewpoints and are able to adopt a 'trial and error' approach,
- Create self-organizing teams that focus on the problem, not the solution. As the solution will evolve through iterative, innovative solution design. There is no 'final' solution
Over the years, I have worked for and with different C-level executives, board executives and general managers of global multi-country and national businesses. During these engagements I have experienced, first-hand, how their diverse career paths, experiences and interests have contributed to their effective and innovative leadership.
I believe that innovation is not something you teach, learn or read. Innovation is listening, sharing, experiencing, collaborating and testing. Innovative leadership can only be categorised as an evolving leadership style.