Thursday, May 30, 2019

Three Perspectives on Being an Innovative Leader

Innovation leaders are versatile with open-mindedness and learning agility.

By etymology, "innovare" signifies "to germinate seeds," knowing that, go ahead and innovate by inventing your future, and the one of your company’s. Business success today depends on innovation. Business innovation depends on innovation leadership. Highly innovative leaders need to have a clear vision, effective communication and make a commitment to roll the imagination into reality. The success of innovation depends on visionary leadership, systematic management, as well as a creative culture having a strong connection with business objectives, skills, and knowledge. Everything begins with leadership. Here are three perspectives on being an innovative leader.

An innovation leader is not only a dreamer and a strategist but also a practitioner to develop and renew creative energy in the business environment: Forward-looking organizations understand the strategic imperative for business reinvention and renewal. The board and the top management team are looking for shareholders’ value, which requires developing innovative products or services that have unique selling points to expand the market growth. Thus, innovative leaders are in strong demand to establish an innovation framework and environment for nurturing creative ideas and transforming them into the commercial value of the business. On one side, it’s critical to shaping an organization towards innovative working climate by encouraging fresh thinking and unleashing creative energy; on the other hand, the best innovative leaders are also well-disciplined, they should focus on the strategic business goals skillfully and navigate innovation management in the right decision. Innovation fails usually because that innovation invariably has not had top executives’ guidance and sponsorship; communication across business functions has been weak and there are very little empowerment and too limited delegation. The trick is to release the innovation potential of the business by addressing all those issues insightfully and dealing with them effectively. Walking that tight rope makes the innovation leader and managing innovation is both science and art.

An innovative leader today is a problem-solver, who has to create, manage, and explore innovation networks and business eco-system: Innovation is a process that is cross-functional and non-industry specific. It is, at its heart, a problem-solving process- a simple process of deduction to derive a solution drawing from knowledge, experience, and out-of-the-box creativity. Innovative leaders require the strength to review a recommendation to a problem or decisions. They see the old problems from every direction and find different solutions. The traditional type of business management usually cannot look outside the box, but innovation management needs to shape a bigger box to think, recognize innovative ideas, fight for resources and political cover, connect ideas and teams together to deliver highly innovative solutions and achieve innovation excellence. Logically, it's important to break down silos and being intentional about developing business processes that encourage cross-functional communication and collaboration and enforcing business adaptability and innovation. Change, creativity, and problem-solving are all important perspectives on driving the business forward. It combines restless dissatisfaction with the current state coupled with the excitement of leading individuals or teams to find innovative solutions that will produce great results. Otherwise, you’ll have very little change to run a high-performance digital business successfully.

The other great sign of a good innovation leader is that he/she will recognize his/her limitations and build a team with complementary mindsets and skills
: Innovative leaders are like a conductor leading the orchestra with a not yet completely written digital innovation symphony. Innovation leadership is anchored on the leader’s multifaceted resourcefulness and differentiated competency. True innovative leaders inspire creativity and encourage employees to do new things and show the right dose of risk appetite. So even innovation effort fails, they learn from it and grow to make better products or services in the future. Innovation thrives when talented people are put in the right position to stimulate excellent ideas or implement them relentlessly. Aptitude and skills will vary from front-end to back-end. Thus, it is critical to building a highly innovative team with all sorts of talent and skills, from sowing the seed of creativity, growing the innovation fruits, to reaping innovation benefits. It’s also crucial to develop a strong capacity for integration and digestion of information from various sources because nowadays information is usually one of the most time-intensive pieces of innovation puzzle. The emerging business collaboration tools and platforms are not only enforcing the structured business processes of the past but also enabling the unstructured processes of the digital enterprise to break down silos to enforce collaboration and amplify collective creativity.

Innovation leaders are versatile with open-mindedness and learning agility. The speed of change is expedited, so does the speed of innovation. Innovative leaders are also strategic leaders who can take the calculated risks to find new opportunities that would lead the right path to innovation. They have flexibility and adaptability to practice the wide range of leadership skills available to them and show self-awareness to know when and how to use and develop the professional skills of those that they lead. More often, they are the innovator themselves, walk the talk, to build a digital organization for achieving innovation excellence.


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