3 Things Innovative Leaders Do Differently


Everybody’s talking about innovation. Of course, everybody wants to innovate. We’re living in a disruptive time. Most of the business conferences I attend have a portion of the agenda and content specifically focused around leading “innovation” and unlocking the best ideas to move further and faster toward a vision for 2020.

Our workforce expects different things from their employers and managers. Our customers expect better products and services, faster. Our leaders and investors are looking for growth and returns.

How can we capitalize amid the chaos and lead teams to advance with confidence, commitment and continuous improvement top of mind?

I see three things that innovative leaders do differently.

They have a healthy relationship with failure.

The only way to truly innovate is to take calculated risks. Perfectionism slows you down. Instead of shooting for perfection, look for small, iterative steps you can take toward your goals.

When people take chances and try new ideas, they’re going to fail. It’s just part of the process. Ask yourself: How does my organization view failures? Do we look for opportunities to learn, or do we punish our people for mistakes?

If you’re going to drive innovation, you have to have a healthy relationship with and tolerance for failure.

They schedule creative time.

Most people today are overscheduled and stretched thin at work. They bounce between meetings and struggle to stay on top of their inbox. That doesn’t leave much time to really think, listen, learn or creatively solve problems.

Leaders have the opportunity to change that. What gets scheduled, gets done. Schedule time for yourself and your employees to think, collaborate and get out from under the daily grind that minimizes creativity and real innovation.

They create a clear vision of the future.

What does “innovation” really mean for you? How will you change to better serve your customers in 2020? What will those changes look like for your employees?

The best leaders I’ve spent time with have a clear vision of the future. They show their people the path they’re going to take, and proactively connect people to that path. The best leaders are FutureMakers: They establish a vision and show people how to get there.

I shared these ideas and more traits of innovative leaders in this podcast interview with Washington Speakers Bureau. It’s a quick listen if you’re looking for inspiration:

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