Thursday, May 5, 2016

Three Elements in Innovative Leadership

Digital leadership must be extremely visionary, mindful, creative empathetic, generous, conscious, passionate, and humble.

Creativity is the most wanted skill for digital professionals today, and innovative leadership is also in strong demand to bridge cognitive gaps, amplify collective creativity, inspire the culture of learning, and accelerate digital transformation. What are the top traits in innovative leadership, and how to cultivate more world-class innovative leaders?

Explorable mind: Creative leadership is the capacity to think and act beyond the boundaries that limit human potential. Open-mindedness is a significant characteristic of innovative leadership. The leader views the whole picture and applies creativity in areas not explored yet. Innovation leaders face a complex reality, environment plays an important role, every business is different, every industry is different, enterprise culture is unique, innovation leaders must be at the right moment, with an explorable mind to catch great opportunities, develop skills and knowledge, and use the right information available, to take effective decisions, with the right people, using the right methods, to give the best results. Creative leadership is essentially anchored on the leader's overall multifaceted resourcefulness. That is, the multidimensional (including introspection) competencies to formulate creative, unconventional alternatives or solutions to resolve problems, to show versatility and flexibility in response to unpredictable or unanticipated circumstances. Leaders who are open, collaborative and willing to listen to employees are more likely to be successful innovators. Create a culture where sharing of ideas is welcome and innovation is rewarded.

Envisioning the future: Leadership is about the future, and creative leadership is to make the future brighter than today via innovativeness. It's true that leaders must have a clear vision, not a vision clouded and distorted by rosy colored glasses or narrow-minded perspectives. Clarify the vision and objectives. Vision is more than a destination, it is also the way people envision change and look at things. A leader's vision is coherent with his/her organization's vision. Leadership has the foresight to see the future needs of an organization, the commitment to provide whatever effort is necessary to move the organization in the right direction and the grace to do so because it is best for the organization. A visionary is often an outlier - the one who steps out of a conventional thinking box, or linear patterns, to look at things from different angles and connect dots with interdisciplinarity.  A passionate connection to vision doesn't mean you will always be excited about it, it means you will be willing to suffer for it as you realize you are responsible for the life-changing effects of its realization to do things in a better way.  So the vision and intention of becoming a leader are to facilitate and encourage, as change is often an uncomfortable, yet necessary part of reaching and maintaining success.

Following simplicity principles: Innovation is to simplify the way to do things, not the other way around. Innovative leadership sees how bureaucracy can stiffen innovation, strangle understanding, process, and action. Innovative leadership is transformative because it goes beyond transactional management practices, it is all about change, in pursuit of changing things for better at large scale and scope, "the company reinvented itself," on a grand level, at the level of the system, differentiate in terms of the end result on a systemic level. Creative leadership follows the simplicity principle and avoids unnecessary process and bureaucracy. Hence, innovative leaders can advocate the culture of creativity: build up a positive emotional climate, foster positive relationships, communicate relentlessly, cool down stressed people before they stress others, be there at the crossroad of the transformation to make sure information and interaction flow in every direction, streamline processes, build up trust by bonding people around clear and benevolent intentions.

The ultimate criterion of "creative leadership," is to envision the future trends in business, technology, and society, explore business opportunities and unleash human potentials, build the ability to create more authentic and creative leaders, to spread leadership and amplify positive influence. Digital leadership must be extremely visionary, mindful, creative empathetic, generous, conscious, passionate, and humble. The impact of innovative leadership both on followers' creativity at the individual level and on innovation at the organizational level is significant. The more "creative leaders" we have, the better for the world.


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